I remember moving into my first apartment. I was twenty-one years old and starting university. My parents had just bought a new house out in the county, with no bus route on hand and no easy way to get into the city each day to make it to classes I was forced to find my own place.
I remember the excitement of having my own space, and filling it with the various necessities. The one thing I never considered spending money on was tenant insurance. I didn’t even realize there was such a thing. When my mom was standing with me in the aisle at Zellers pointing out all of the various things I must buy (And oh boy, how all those little things add up, once you realize you need everything from a toilet brush to a can opener.), she never said, “Oh, and don’t forget renter’s insurance!” But it would have been some great advice.
I remember my first apartment and the quirky old-ness of it. The beautiful old hardwood floors, the odd shaped rooms, the bathroom that was so tight you actually had to lift the seat to be able to shut the door. The wiring was also old and unpredictable. I had to turn off the window AC before I could turn on the microwave, or a fuse would blow. Two-pronged outlets abounded and to get around this I purchased a little adapter that converted the two prongs to three, allowing me to plug things in without them actually being grounded. Rather unsafe, and also illegal in Canada.
Did you know that as a tenant you are liable for any harm caused to any part of the building you’re living in, and to others who live or visit there? If the place burns down and they trace the reason for the fire back to your apartment, you are responsible, financially responsible, for what could easily add up to one heck of a lot of money.
Your possessions have value… even if you don’t think they do. I remember how quickly all the little expenses of moving out added up. My furniture was all hand-me-downs, and as much as possible I bought used or cheap when outfitting the kitchen and bathroom. Yet it still added up to much more then I had originally expected. Add in the value of my clothing and the sizable book collection that I had brought along, I would easily have been out several thousand dollars if something happened to my apartment. Tenant’s insurance would of course have covered me, helping to recover my losses.
The first time I discovered there was such a thing as tenant’s insurance was the moment I could have used it most. I was lucky in that despite the quirky wiring, the place never did burn down. The event that left me wishing I had purchased tenant’s insurance was a small thing, a simple thing, nothing sinister. I had some friends over for dinner and I was making pasta.
I didn’t own a colander, one of the many things I decided to skimp on when moving out. When it came time to drain the pasta I just held the lid over the pot at an angle and drained it into the sink. My friend wanted to help in the kitchen. She attempted to drain the pasta and failed. She dumped the pot of hot noodles and near boiling water onto her sock covered feet. Her feet were badly scalded, our dinner party cut short by her boyfriend carting her off to emergency room. Then about a week later she called up and asked me something really strange. Did I have renter’s insurance? No, I didn’t. What the heck was that? She said oh never mind, steered the conversation elsewhere and eventually let me go. It wasn’t until months later, when we were no longer friends, that I discovered that at her doctor’s recommendation she had been considering suing me for the injury. I was lucky in that she had decided to let it drop. I could have been held responsible for the income she lost due to the several weeks she was forced to remain off of her feet. Tenant’s insurance would have protected me in the event of a lawsuit.
I was surprised to discover that in some cases, tenant’s insurance may not cost you a cent. Students are often covered under their parent’s house insurance policy. Even if you do have to pay out of pocket for it, tenant’s insurance is surprisingly affordable. It gives you both protection and the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered. Which is well worth the cost of a few coffees a month. It’s advice I wish my younger self had been given (well, that and “Splurge, go ahead and buy the colander!”).
you first moved out? Did you get it, or ever wish you had?
For further info check out: Do I Really Need Tenant’s Insurance? on the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s website.