Up in smoke
Hmmm…where to start this story. On 1 May 2000, I moved out of my parents’ house and into my first apartment. On 1 September 2000, it all went up in smoke.
It was the Friday before Labor Day. Being a long weekend, people left work a little early, but I was plugging away– in a groove. Around 4:30 p.m., the phone rang and it was one of my co-workers who’d already left. She was in the car and heard on the radio that there was a major fire at the intersection where I lived. Since there were several complexes where that fire could be, I shrugged- not worried at all. But being the start of a long weekend, I decided to call it a week and left.
I found a news radio station and, as I listened, I realized the fire was in fact at the complex where I lived. But I still wasn’t concerned because there were five other buildings — it would be one of them on fire. WRONG!
The intersection was blocked, but I got as close as I could. Flames everywhere. Forty neighboring fire departments sent trucks and firemen. I drove home and told my parents one of their chicks was moving back home for awhile. 🙂
Why would Thriftistas be interested in this story? Three weeks earlier I had FINALLY listened to my oldest sister’s nagging and got renter’s insurance. Best $90 I have spent in my life!
In addition to the insurance company handing me a check for $500 to go buy clothes and necessities until everything was straightened out, they also arranged for cleaners to go through the apartment and gather up all the salvageable clothing.¬† They arranged for movers to pack up all my undamaged property and put it into storage.¬† Since my apartment was on the second floor and the fire was only on the third, I only had smoke and water damage; most of my belongings survived (except yet another Bon Jovi “New Jersey” CD destroyed– I still don’t know why the fates don’t want me to own that album!).¬† Basically, the insurance company did my thinking for me the first few days.
Here is a breakdown of what the insurance company spent:
- $1000 on cleaning my clothes
- $1400 to replace living room chairs
- $1000 mattress
- all new underwear
- all new make-up and toiletries
- $400 to repair my laptop (if it had been a desktop computer, it would have been destroyed)
- a new TV, a new VCR, a new CD/radio
- $125 library fine (yes, I had that many books and movies checked out)
- new photo albums (someone warned me to remove all the pictures from the album, let them dry, then put them in new albums or they would mildew in a few months)
This is just what I remember– this is what the insurance company spent on someone whose was lucky…for a lot of other people in the building, the damage was a lot worse. I think there was more. But for $90, I got $$$$ and peace of mind. Totally worth the money!
Lesson for condo owners too:¬† Now, I was actually renting a condo. There were a few unfortunate condo owners who assumed that because the condo association had insurance, they didn’t need any of their own insurance. They learned an extreeeeemly expensive lesson. Because they didn’t have their own insurance, they had to pay rent and mortgage during the year it took to rebuild. The condo association’s insurance did NOT cover their personal belongings. And to top it all off, they still had to pay condo dues during the year they didn’t live there.
So this is where I nag, nag, nag! If you don’t have insurance, consider buying some. I did the math one day and it was about five years after the fire before the insurance company and I were “even”– and I even included my car insurance premiums when I calculated how much I paid them. So worth the money.