"Not Having Renters Insurance Meant Having To Pay For A Lot Of Things Twice"
April 7, 2011
Back in the beginning of 2007 I was getting ready to move into my first apartment in several years. I was a single mother with two adolescent children and had lived in my mother's house for the past several years. Finally the three of us were going to get an apartment of our own.
Our apartment was modest but nice. It was far from a luxurious place, but it wasn't the least expensive place, either. Money was tight, and so I decided to forgo renter's insurance. Somehow I thought I was immune to potential catastrophe where my apartment was concerned, and for a while everything was fine. Then came Halloween.
My daughter stayed at my mother's house that night to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids. My son went out with friends and came home late. Around 11 p.m. we locked the door and settled in for the night. Around 2 a.m., I heard a noise, an alarm. Certainly it must be someone's idea of a Halloween prank.
Annoyed, I played along. I woke my son, threw on a coat, and we headed downstairs. It wasn't until we were outside that we noticed flames coming from the building. Our pets were still inside, along with everything else we owned. My son had fallen asleep in his clothes with his cell phone in his pocket and was able to call for a ride back to my mother's, where we saw the building continue to blaze on the local news.
I found odds and ends of clothes and felt like a scarecrow going to Wal-Mart and the Goodwill to get something to wear. I had to borrow money from my sister. All I had after the fire was my pajamas. We made several trips back to the apartment complex before the fire people would allow us back into our apartment. The roof had caved in, everything was sopping wet, and we were only allowed 10 to 15 minutes to grab as much as we could carry in one trip down three stories of a dark stairwell. The clothes were no good. The furniture was impossible to get out. Bookshelves full of books were ruined – many of them signed. We had to leave behind countless other things of sentimental value. Thankfully, firefighters had saved our cat and our guinea pig. A piece of the roof had fallen on the aquarium, leaving no survivors.
We were able to pull ourselves back together relatively quickly. There was another apartment available in the complex we were able to transfer to, although it was not as nice as where we had lived before. Friends, family, and the Red Cross chipped in to help us reestablish our home, but had I had renter's insurance, I most likely could have gotten some kind of settlement to pay off debt and replace more of our lost things with things we really wanted, rather than sorting through others leftovers.
I was thankful for all the help I received and humbled by the way people came through for us. However, like most people, I prefer independence, and if I had had renter's insurance, I would've had more of that. I also would not have been left with bills for things I no longer had. Not having renter's insurance meant having to pay for a lot of things twice, and it's been a blow to my credit. With renter's insurance the opposite may have happened. I could have caught up and stayed ahead on my finances and could possibly have gotten a better apartment or bought my own home. Instead, I am still in that downgraded apartment and wondering what to do next.
- Gretchen from Minnesota
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