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Scary Reminder


Something terrible happened in a friend’s life this week (to be fair, its my bro-in-law’s best friend, he was the best man in my sister and bro-in-law’s wedding. I’ve only met him once, when I was MOH and he was Best Man. Anyway….).

Mark had used a portable grill to grill some dinner while his pregnant wife and son played inside. After they ate Mark thought the grill had cooled, so he brought it back into the garage.

I don’t know the exact timing of things or sequence of events but at some later point that evening, Mark smelled smoke. He opened the door to the garage and saw that it was fully engulfed in flames.

He ran inside to get his wife and son and they ran outside with only the clothes on their backs. His wife had grabbed her cell phone. That was the only material possession they had (and they promptly called 911). Watching the fire blaze, Mark’s pregnant wife’s water broke. The stress had caused her to go into early labor. Being that both of their cars were in the garage she had to call 911 again. This time, she had to ask for an ambulance to take her to the hospital (being that both their cars were currently on fire).

They went to the hospital and Kirsten delivered their sweet baby girl (although slightly premature, the baby and Mom are both fine, thank goodness). But now they have nowhere to go, no way to even get the baby home (no car seat, no car), and one other thing…..they were renters and did not have renter’s insurance. They literally have nothing to their names.

It’s a terrible thing. Thankfully they have each other and everyone is safe (that’s the main thing). But its still devastating. Perhaps moreso, given the new baby.

When it happened, my Mom called me in a panic:  “I’m so worried about you guys! You have renter’s insurance, right???”

Of course we do, Mom!


Wait a minute…..do we?

We moved into our current place (where we rent) at the beginning of last August. At that time we had paid in full for one year’s worth of renter’s insurance. Being that we’re now at the end of August, our policy has lapsed and we are currently uninsured. Guess what I’m calling about today to renew? Yep – renter’s insurance.

Let this be a reminder to all of you who rent. Renter’s insurance is one of the cheapest forms of insurance that you can buy. Please, please, do not let yourselves be uninsured.


If you feel inclined to donate to this family, a Go Fund Me has been set up here.  Please do not feel at all obligated, they have had an outpouring of love and support from friends and family, so I’m sure they will end up being okay. I just wanted to share (and to add legitimacy to the story – pictures are included on the Go Fund Me site).



    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes! Good call! Who thinks to have a smoke detector in the garage? But it would be such a cheap investment and could potentially save your life and your possessions!

      • Reply Juhli |

        It is equally important to put one in the basement if your house has one. That tends to be where the furnace is and a CO2 detector as well if you have gas for your furnace/water heater.

  • Reply KK |

    After years of my dad telling me to get renter’s insurance, I finally got it this past May. After reading this story, I am so glad I did!! Thankfully it was an inexpensive policy ($120 for the whole year I think) since I don’t own an exorbitant amount of things. Now I am covered if someone happens to bust in and steal my 8+ year old laptop or that 12+ year old TV. 😉
    I did ensure it covered a certain amount of jewelry though! I have a few nice pieces, that were given to me by family, so it’s nice to know that’s covered too.
    Next step, take pictures of my things! That way if anything does go missing or gets destroyed, I’ll know what to replace 🙂

    • Reply Ashley |

      Glad you got insurance! And, yes, I’ve heard its best to photograph possessions (particularly valuable ones, like your jewelry). I admit I’m guilty of not having done this. Maybe I can do it today – get insurance, photograph stuff, and be all set!

  • Reply Scooze |

    I once had an apartment that got flooded by the sprinkler system.You bet I had renter’s insurance! It is super cheap and in most cases required by the lease. If that is the case, the building owner may not have to compensate renters for damages that were caused by construction, other owners, etc.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    How awful! An immediate neighbor’s home burned to the ground a couple of years back. It was just awful, though every one was okay. For the rest of us, it’s nice to learn these lessons the easier way (when it doesn’t happen to you). Heck, we had another neighbor that had a minor christmas tree fire (they were able to put it out themselves quickly) but even that was a nightmare as far as the damage caused to their home.

  • Reply TPol |

    I am so glad that your friends are OK. Possessions can be replaced, lives cannot.

    For the last 10 years or so we have an insurance agent as a family. He takes care of all our insurance policies and he is excellent in informing us when the policies will be up at least two weeks in advance. My sister and mother renew their policies even without shopping around. I do shop around to confirm if he is giving me the best deals and the best coverage and almost always, he does. Too bad your provider did not alert you on time but you can always put it on your calendar in order not to forget.

  • Reply Den |

    Even simpler than taking photos is walking around your home with a video camera – just be sure to store the video somewhere off premises.

  • Reply Mary |

    When I rented, our lease required proof of renter’s insurance on an annual basis. We were also lucky because our apartment complex had sprinker’s; if you rent, the number one thing you want is to make sure it has a sprinkler system (and of course to have renter’s insurance).

    A few years ago when I was in our apartment, the smoke alarm went off. It seemed like alarms went off a lot and many were false alarms. Anyway, it was a pain to lift my son into a wheelchair and haul him outside every time an alarm went off but one morning, I got up and had a feeling I needed to get showered, make up and dressed early. I decided to trust my gut. Around 7 a.m. or so, the fire alarm went off. I went outside to see if there was any smoke or anything going on, assuming it was a false alarm. I didn’t see anything and I didn’t want to wake my son up since it’s a good ten minutes to get him into the wheelchair (we lived on the first floor). I heard the fire trucks sirens and went and checked outside my door again and still nothing but since the sirens were going, I got my son up, put him in the wheelchair and got him outside. As it turns out, the apartment next door to mine was on fire. Soon it was raging. They had to rescue two little girls from the apartment. Shockingly, they couldn’t find the parents. (I lived in a luxury apartment complex so it was mostly white collar tennants.) In the end, the sprinkler system saved our 3 story brick apartment building from being almost totally destroyed. The fire chief said that if the building didn’t have smoke alarms the building would have been mostly destroyed and many families displaced. I ended up with some water damage in my apartment closet. The parents weren’t home and had left the two little girls under 5 alone at home (I think the parents worked opposite shifts; they were Indian,not that it mattered.) They eventually found the parents (the leasing office called the mother’s employer and she came home.) The fire was started because the parents left a burning candle in a bedroom closet for religious purposes and it caught fire. On top of that, my son was on oxygen at the time and I had several oxygen canisters in my garage which was only two garages away from the apartment fire…if the fire would have spead, they would have exploded. Just a weird lesson. And yes, we had renter’s insurance.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, what a terrifying way to start the day! I can’t believe two kids under 5 were left home alone! Some of the stories in the news these days I disagree with (like parents being arrested because a 10-year-old was allowed to play in the park down the street unsupervised…I was babysitting at 12 so 10 seems plenty old enough to walk down the street & play), but 2 kids under 5??? Yikes!!!

  • Reply SAK |

    Many years ago the apartment two stories above us caught fire (light fluid+grill+wooden beams on balcony = fire). We had lots of water and smoke damage – and of the six apartments we were the only ones with renters insurance. It is important to get REPLACEMENT VALUE insurance – so you can just go buy a couch/bed/etc. and get reimbursed and not just get $50 because that was the value of the couch. Plus make sure the insurance covers your costs if you are displaced – temporarily or permanently. Ours covered the hotel and meals out for the week between apartments. Plus the insurance company arranged to pack and move items that were savable (60 unlabeled boxes = not fun) and took the good furniture to be treated for smoke (think solid wood tables, etc). It is surprising how expensive it can be to replace lots of things and the insurance was fantastic. So sorry to hear your friends story – now max sure you have coverage and for the max amount!

  • Reply hannah |

    Wow so sad. I am so glad everyone was ok though, the financial loss they can recover from in time, but a human loss would be terrible. I don’t understand why anyone is without renter’s insurance! It is dirt cheap, just over a $100 a year is nothing!
    We have had it everywhere we’ve lived and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Especially if you live in an apartment complex and are at risk of other tenants burning the place down!
    Also, most policies have some sort of liability insurance tacked on, which in today’s insane world is a good idea to have!

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Not that I ever had to use it, but I am so glad someone told me to get renter’s insurance when I moved out. I think it was my mom… The person who told explained that it isn’t very expensive, unlike homeowner’s, and it wasn’t. I think the most I paid was $150-200/year.

    And as far as apartment complexes go, YOU may be careful about stuff but you never know about your neighbors.

    I’m so glad no one was hurt in the fire.

So, what do you think ?