The time has come — the salt air beckons you for what was probably one reason you joined the military — it's time to deploy. It's a good idea to plan how you'll protect your belongings while you deploy so that everything is safe and sound when you return.
Storing Your Belongings
Your bike, your stereo, your prized video collection — you may want to consider storing these items so they don't develop legs while you're away from the barracks. Many bases have storage units on base that tend to have lower rental prices compared to civilian storage companies. It may not be obvious where to go to rent on-base storage — it may be the auto hobby shop — but look around for "Lock and Leave" storage that should have different-sized lockers to accommodate the items you'd like to store. If on-base storage is full, shop around for the best price in town. Family-owned storage may have lower prices than nationwide companies.
If it will be very hot or very cold while you're away, your belongings should probably be in a temperature-controlled unit. Make sure your possessions will be elevated from water damage in case of flooding. Your renter's insurance, which protects your property from damage and theft, may be discounted if the storage company has their own security system beyond the lock on the locker door. If someone is living in your home while you're away, renter's insurance should cover you in case anyone is hurt on, or with, your property.
Be sure to make a complete inventory of your possessions and store it with your other important documents while you're gone.
Lending Your Car
A friend or relative has probably had your deployment date marked on their calendar for several months, not to give you a warm send-off, but in eager anticipation of borrowing your car. You have a few options for how to handle your car insurance in this case — you can either add the person to your insurance policy or you can cancel or suspend your policy on the vehicle altogether, letting the borrower cover the car with their own insurance. Both avenues have questions you need to consider, such as who will pay for the insurance while you're away, and whether your premium will be increased if you open a new policy upon your return.
If you have determined that your friend is responsible enough to make the payments (automatic withdrawal of the premiums may prevent late payments), inform your insurance company of your plan. USAA, an insurance company that only serves military members and their families, would send you a questionnaire about the new driver, review their driving record, and, if approved, send you a power of attorney form letter in case you will let the new driver change the coverage while you're away.
Storing Your Car
If you elect to avoid wreckage of your car and relationships, you could always kiss your "baby" goodbye after parking it in a nice, safe storage location. Many bases have on-base storage for vehicles, and, as with property storage, it may be run by a surprising source such as the Outdoor Adventure Center. The key to securing a spot is to make a reservation at the lot as soon as you know you'll be deploying, because there is often a waiting list. On-base storage, as opposed to off-base, may also earn you a slightly lower insurance premium.
While your vehicle is stored, you should be able to whittle down insurance coverage, but it's unlikely you'll be able to cancel it altogether. In general, the storage lot will require that you keep comprehensive coverage in case of theft or damage. The bank you've financed the car with may also need proof of this insurance, in addition to maintaining state registration. However, registration requirements while a car is stored vary from state to state.
A local mechanic may also have suggestions on maintenance you should perform on your car before parking it long-term.
What to Do With Your Sails While You Sail Away
If a bumper sticker on your boat reads, "My other vessel is an aircraft carrier," eventually you'll need to look into storing your boat, too.
Generally, you should be insured for damage to your boat during a storm, or if your boat damages someone else's, and see if your insurance premium will differ for boat storage on-base vs. off, dry storage vs. wet. Each insurance company handles boat insurance differently, but check to see how your insurance would be affected if you loan your boat to a friend while you deploy.
Planning ahead and quick phone calls before you deploy can help ensure that your personal property will be intact and safe while you deploy over the horizon.