In August of 2011, Hurricane Irene stormed up the east coast of America and wreaked havoc. One of the costliest storms in our history, Irene left behind a wake of flooded houses, toppled trees, and damage. Schools (mine included) were closed for days afterwards as repairs were being made and debris cleared. Left without power for nearly a week, my family and I were some of the lucky ones whose home remained safe and unharmed throughout Hurricane Irene’s wrath. Further inland than my coastal school and located on a hill, our house was out of the direct path of the storm and high enough to prevent flooding. While the numerous oak trees surrounding our house were certainly frightening to watch as they were battered by hurricane strength winds, our sturdy house survived the storm.
The damage for us came a week later on a bright and sunny weekend. Our house is surrounded by oak trees, with many of the branches arching over our roof. Assured numerous times that these trees were strong and healthy we removed the most dangerous branches and left the trees standing. After a battle with Irene, though, one damaged branch finally lost its hold on this weekend and fell straight through our roof. After hearing the bang we ran into my sister’s room (who was thankfully at college) to find a fifteen foot branch at least six inches in diameter poised directly over her bed. Powdered pieces of ceiling and bits of bark covered her bed, and the initial sense of relief that no one got hurt was quickly replaced with the horror one can only feel when their home, their safe place, is breached. Today was bright and sunny, but what about tomorrow? Suddenly we had to worry about rain getting inside the house, and insects, and everything from the outside that we never dreamed would enter our safe and quiet little house.
It was here that Liberty Mutual Homeowner’s Insurance stepped in and set things right. We called them the day of the incident and immediately they told us to begin cleaning what we could—the pictures and evidence of the damage did not matter to them nearly as much as our safety and the security of the house. Not even two days later an agent was sent out to assess the damage and decide the amount of coverage. The check they graciously wrote not only covered the hole where the branch fell through but the entire back half of the roof, which was twenty years old. By the end of the week the ceiling was not only patched but the roof replaced, and all that was left of the damage were a few shocking pictures.
In moments like these insurance proves itself to be crucial. It seems so easy to just believe the terrible will never happen to you personally, or that if it does you will simply deal with it then. If trees can stand strong through a hurricane then surely they will not come crashing into your house on a warm and pleasant day—except they can. The unthinkable can happen, and you cannot predict it or expect to constantly be prepared for it. Assuming a problem can be dealt with monetarily when it occurs is easy to do when nothing is wrong, but when there is a gaping hole in the ceiling it becomes drastically more complicated. There is no time to figure out a way to scrape up the money, or wait until another check comes in—living in a house that is open to the elements is not safe, and it is certainly not a condition that can be sustained. Liberty Mutual ensured that our greatest worry during this trying time was restoring the house itself, not finding ways to cover the damage. They were efficient and made sure we spent as little time as possible with a damaged roof, sending out their agent right away and taking care of monetary concerns.
Before this incident, insurance had always been a vague and somewhat frightening concept to me. As a high schooler, I only grasped that it was crucial in times of distress—and I fervently hoped to never need it. It seemed impossible to believe that our sturdy little house could possibly be damaged by another storm when it had been through so many, but it was and in that moment insurance became very real to me and very necessary. It is not another convoluted payment to some obscure company but rather peace of mind that help will be there when you need it. Without our homeowner’s insurance we would have struggled to repair the damage done by the branch and there is no telling how long it would have taken to fix it; with Liberty Mutual, however, the incident was nearly forgotten within a week. To me this was a convincing case of how important insurance truly is, even for healthy, safe, and happy people. Whether it is homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, or health insurance, knowing that help will be there in the darkest of times lets us rest our heads easy at night and go confidently in the direction of our futures.
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