I awoke to a wet feeling inside of my bed. Still about 90% asleep, I feared the worst, but after checking for the obvious source of the wetness I asserted that the most embarrassing cause could be eliminated. I sat up in the darkness and felt several puddles forming on top of my bed. My hearing skills became more acute as I heard a sound reminiscent of rain drops falling inside the room. What the heck was going on?
I stepped out of bed and went to turn on the light. What greeted me in the brightness was a sight to behold: a miniature rainstorm was coming down, rapidly dropping water from yellowish watermarks where pure white ceiling once existed.
Instinctively I began grabbing my valuables and running them out of the room: computer, stereo, books, clothing, all getting drenched by brackish water as the flow increased exponentially every minute. My flat mate awoke in the commotion and I yelled at him to cut the power to the apartment so no one got electrocuted. In the pitch dark we began working together to clear the goods out, each of us loudly barking orders to each other over the increasingly loud waterfall in my room, as if acting out the climactic scene of some overly dramatic natural disaster movie.
Eventually the goods were taken of harm´s way and we called the fire department to help us stop the water. Our uniformed heroes quickly assessed the situation and rushed to the floor above us where the problem was believed to originate. The firemen banged on the door of our upstairs neighbor. An elderly gentleman gingerly opened the door and met the group of us with a surprised look on his face. We all went inside and saw the root of the problem: a faucet cranking out water explosively fast into an overrun bathtub. It turns out the old gentleman neighbor of ours had fallen asleep and forgotten about the bath he was running. As a result the water flowed down into my bedroom and created a miniature hurricane.
The end result of the mini-catastrophe: One ruined suede jacket, some damaged computer parts, several thousand crowns worth of cleaning bills, and a totally ruined rented bedroom that I was forced to move out of pretty much immediately while it was repaired by my stunned and saddened landlord.
While this could be seen as merely an interesting anecdote about the random events that can happen to any one at any time, it could also be seen as a reason to think about how to cover yourself financially in such an occasion.
After the incident I spoke about the matter with Tomáš Drábek, an English speaking insurance broker (www.pojisteni.biz) who advises clients on the best plans to insure themselves and the reasons why it´s a good idea to take out a policy.
“Renter’s insurance, also known as content insurance, is an affordable way of protecting your things against threats that can make your property completely wasted or gone,” says Drábek. “It basically includes all the natural perils that could threaten your stuff– fire, explosion, lightning, floods, hailstorm, damage caused by the weight of snow, damage caused by a falling object. Human related perils are included as well– theft, vandalism, robbery, or getting mugged out in the street.”
Drábek adds it´s not only catastrophic events which renter´s insurance can help you with. “Have you ever shut the door with the keys left inside? Insurance solves even that. It can help you sleep easy.”
From the typical occurrence such as locking yourself out of your flat to the atypical occurrence such as your neighbor leaving his bathtub running and flooding your apartment, renter´s insurance is a wise investment for people who want to feel secure that they will not be left without any protection should the unfortunate happen.
For information about different policies an individual can go straight to any of the many insurance companies in the Czech Republic, such as Allianz (www.allianz.cz), Uniqa (www.uniqa.cz) or Generali (www.generali.cz.) But rather than take the time to deal with each company, the most convenient way is to simply speak directly with an insurance broker.
“With a broker, you get a specialist who knows the insurance legislation, the pitfalls of each insurance company and their products, and they can assist you if anything happens,” says Drábek.
“Brokers can also tell you the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of policy and save you money before purchasing. For example, it´s rarely worth having a plan with a deductible, as the costs for premiums are not sky high,” he says. “And you can choose to leave out coverage for theft, which gives you a lovely discount of around 30%.”
Many people may feel that the cost of taking out an insurance policy is likely not worth the expense, but in truth it´s really not as much as you think it might be. For example, a typical renter´s insurance policy which allows the policyholder 960,000 CZK of coverage without any deductible payment can be had for less than 3,700 CZK per year.
Renter´s insurance, unfortunately for the mistake prone, does not cover damage caused by an individual to their own goods. But a cheap general liability policy does provide coverage when one damages the goods of others. So whether you smash the plates that come with your rented flat, break your friend´s TV while playing indoor soccer in his living room or if the water from your washing machine leaks out and ruins the floor, you are completely covered. The cost for this particular policy is only around 300 CZK per year, a small price to pay for the dangerously clumsy.
With possession of both renter´s insurance and liability insurance you are covered financially in most occurrences of damage for basically the price of a weekend for two in the countryside. While the weekend in the countryside might seem more relaxing in the short term, using that money towards an annual insurance policy that covers the totality of your worldly possessions will definitely be the more relaxing option in the long term, at least if you have a neighbor like mine.