Lady’s valuables destroyed in storage unit by rodents; insurance coverage, storage firm ‘not accountable’ for over $70,000 in losses

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BATON ROUGE – A woman’s property was destroyed by rats and she contacted 2 On Your Side after getting nowhere on her own.

Michelle Dow began storing the contents of her home in the Life Storage on Old Hammond Highway in Baton Rouge in 2002. After a divorce, she sold her house and needed a place to store the items until she found a new house. Dow says she stored the items for much longer than she planned, and only noticed rat droppings here and there throughout the unit a few years ago. Dow says she shared what she found with Life Storage management.

“She said they were aware of it and would handle it,” said Dow.

A few weeks ago, Dow visited the unit and started arranging her things for a move.

“Everything there was saturated with rat urine or rat feces,” she said.

Dow spent hours sifting through her items, most of which she had to throw away. Finding a rat carcass was the last straw, and she says she pretty much gave up after that.

Dow is in a difficult position now as her homeowner’s policy does not cover vermin damage and Life Storage says she is not responsible either.

“They said they are sorry, but they are not responsible for the content, they are responsible for the structure of the building,” said Dow.

Last month, 2 On Your Side reached out to Life Storage after Dow said they would not help her. After a thorough investigation into the situation, Life Storage offered Dow $ 3,000. Says Life Storage, “We believe the billing offered is compatible with the loss associated with your claim to damaged property.”

Life Storage asked Dow to provide a list of all of their belongings that had been lost in the mess. Dow estimates her lost items at around $ 30,000.

Since 2002, Dow has spent $ 71,000 on Life Storage for their items.

“I’m just exhausted from this whole process,” she said.

While she was pushing the items out of the machine, Dow found two holes in the back of the locker that allowed outside light. She says her boyfriend went around to take a look and found out there could be objects poked through her.

After learning that the rats may have found a way into and out of her unit, she doesn’t believe she was treated fairly. Dow says if Life Storage had taken care of the unit like her, she wouldn’t be in that position.

According to Life Storage, customers have the option of taking out insurance through them. This insurance is specially designed for storage and is offered by a third party insurer to cover damage to stored content.