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Military Life Lessons: Renters Insurance

Flood Damage In Military Housing

On January 16, 2021, our washing machine flooded the first floor of our house at Camp Pendleton. Lincoln Military Housing, LMH, owns the home. The total amount to repair the damages caused by the water was $14,377.00. We had USAA renters insurance, but our flood damage to the house was not initially covered. Then, on May 27, LMH gave us two payment options.

Water Leak in House from Ceiling. Water Damage

  1. We could pay the total bill of over $14,000 within 30 days of turning the house over to them on Friday, May 28, 2021. If we didn't pay the full amount, they would send our bill to collections.
  2. We could start a payment plan, interest-free, with 25% due on Friday, May 28. If we didn't pay 25% on May 28, the payment plan option would be taken off the table, and the full amount would be due within 30 days of May 28. Again, we would be sent to collections if the bill was not paid. We didn't know how long the payment plan would go or what our final bill would be until we checked out on Friday, May 28, 2021. We chose to start a payment plan, and then we started looking into hiring an attorney to mediate a deal.

Military Families and Collections

Having any bill sent to collections is scary. Not only would our credit score be negatively impacted if a bill was sent to collections, but the military member's security clearance would be negatively impacted. That would have been detrimental to my husband Richard's career.

Related: How to Get Debt Relief While in the Military

Lessons Learned From Living on Base

  1. Asking questions has empowered us to make the best decision for our family.
  2. Knowing where our money is and exhausting all options from reaching out to Richard's command, working with family advocacy, and sharing our story have spotlighted our case. More people are aware of what their renters' insurance covers because of our situation.
  3. This is a life lesson we learned the hard way. Always ask landlords what their insurance deductible is.
  4. Have an emergency fund with at least three to six months of expenses. I have never been more grateful for our budgeting habits we have learned from our family and financial classes.


Finally, on June 18, 2021, we received a check from USAA to cover our $14,377 bill from Lincoln Military Housing. USAA went above and beyond the insurance industry standard to help our family during this difficult time. We will always be grateful for their support. Richard and I would like to thank the commands at First Marine Division and MCI West, who were willing to listen and advocate on our behalf. Task and Purpose published our story, and military spouses worldwide helped share our situation with other military families. Our insurance advocate, Terry Griffin from VTC Insurance Group, knew what questions to ask. We wouldn't be here today if we didn't have all of your support. Moving forward, we will continue to stand up for military families regardless of where they live.

Originally published at on September 23, 2021.


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