Anna L

I certainly didn’t understand what the word insurance meant when I was younger, but hearing my parents always say ‘”good thing we have insurance” after every accident led me to believe it was something positive and necessary. Given my accident prone track record, I’m sure my parents agree that buying insurance is one of the best decisions any parent can make.  In daycare, I dislocated my arm. In middle school, I dislocated my knee and had to have major surgery.  In high school, I backed into our mailbox with my car less than two weeks after turning 16. So statistically speaking, I’m sure there will be another accident, or catastrophe as defined by a teenager, once I get to college.

Over the years, I have learned more about the concept of insurance and its benefits. My definition of insurance is simple; having security for unknown future accidents. To me, those accidents have always been defined as: homes and fires, cars and wrecks, and health and sickness. That about sums up what I have always thought insurance represents until recently.

My high school homecoming dance was coming up and like every other teenager, I wanted that special dress.  So after many failed trips to the mall, I searched online and found the perfect dress.  With my parents’ permission and assistance, I used their credit card to order the dress from the store’s website online.  I had never purchased anything from this store so I was taking a chance on the correct size and quality.  I was so excited and anxious to get the dress. After a week or so it was delivered to my house. The dress turned out to be perfect and made the homecoming dance even more memorable.

I was very happy with my purchase until the catastrophe happened.  About a month later, after my dress was delivered, I received a letter in the mail addressed to me from the store I purchased it from.  Thinking I had just received a discount coupon or some other gift, I immediately opened it.  Was I ever wrong!  The letter began by mentioning consumer protection and identity theft. Those words, including the statement about how their store’s payment card processing system had been accessed without authorization, scared me to death. My hands were literally shaking as I was holding the letter. Because of social media and technology these days, teenagers are well aware of identity theft and its consequences. I am always careful about sharing information, especially online. I remember hearing in the news the story about Target and how their cardholders had been breached.   That letter, and all the national news about cyber theft, made me realize the saying “it could happen to anyone” was true.  Not only are teenagers and senior citizens susceptible to this. Basically anyone’s identity and information can be stolen regardless of how diligent they think they are with passwords and other means of protection.

Unfortunately, I had used my parents’ credit card to buy the dress, so now their card and information was compromised.  My first thought was guilt. I felt so bad for putting my parents in this position. I immediately called them and explained the letter and what actions the store was taking to protect its customers.  Luckily, my parents told me that their credit card company was very good at monitoring transactions and if any of those looked suspicious, they would alert cardholders. I felt a little relieved but the fear of what could have potentially happened left me scared to even look at anything online. As a senior in high school, I don’t have a credit card yet but I do have a debit card.  I will be more reluctant on where and when I use it from now on.

After my parents read the letter later than evening, they explained to me how the insurance industry is working to make sure data is protected for everyone, both companies and individuals. The store I bought the dress from had been proactive and purchased insurance to protect itself and its customers against data security breaches. Before I received that letter, I had no idea there was insurance for this type of catastrophe.  Clearly, I am relieved to know there is security and protection available for everyone since this seems to be an increasing problem.

As far as we can tell, my parents’ credit card and information has not been compromised. This ordeal, or what I refer to as a catastrophe, has been a learning experience and taught me the importance of insurance and having protection for any kind of event. Insurance truly is something positive and necessary. After all, the prom will be here soon and I need to find that perfect dress.

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