Entry-level life lessons: How to protect yourself from bad things

I recently commented on a blogUT post called Lessons they should’ve taught you in high school… because I truly believe there should be more of an emphasis on managing your personal finance and career even as a teenager. Much more.

Well, I’d like to add a third item to that list: How to protect yourself from bad things!

I was awoken by my BlackBerry’s alarm at 7 a.m. one morning this summer, shortly after which I clumsily dropped my phone into about four inches of ice cold water. I pulled it out and jumped out of bed to turn on the light. My entire apartment was filled with water.

Both of my cats were using my bed as an island. My laptop was on the floor, under water. I grabbed it and opened it onto a towel on my bed; the towel didn’t do much good because water gushed out of the laptop casing, soaking my bed.

That day, there were a lot of frantic phone calls and tears and hyperventilating. It was seven weeks before I was able to live in my apartment again and, although I was able to recover the data from the laptop’s hard drive, my laptop was toast.

I didn’t have insurance.

Sorry, I should specify. I have insurance on my credit card and line of credit, and I have health and life insurance through work. But I don’t have tenant’s insurance. (Do you?)

My gutted powder room

So I had to suck up the losses. I wasn’t charged rent for the seven weeks I wasn’t able to live in my apartment, but I had to spend more money than normal to commute from Mississauga every day. I ate take-out a lot more. And I bought a netbook to replace my laptop.

I was lucky that I had family in Mississauga that I could stay with, and I was lucky that more of my stuff wasn’t damaged. I’d heard of tenant’s insurance, but I had never seriously considered it. What could possibly happen, right?

If you’re renting and you don’t have tenant’s insurance (sometimes called contents insurance), run, don’t walk, to the financial institution of your choice to apply for it. It’s not super expensive. Hopefully you’ll never need it. But I did.

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