Nightmare after fire
No tenant insurance leaves local woman in the cold

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 27/96) - Kathy McKinnon has lost everything she owns.

Without any tenant insurance, the Yellowknife woman is left to see if she can salvage anything from a fire that destroyed her apartment Sunday morning.

Charlotte Kingsford, a friend of McKinnon's, is giving her a place to stay until she moves back in her old apartment -- in four months. That's at least how long it will take before repairs are finished.

McKinnon, who escaped from the fire with only the clothes on her back, is left without clothes or furniture.

"She's happy she's alive, but she's trying to get back on her feet," said Kingsford. "She's pretty traumatized by this."

McKinnon was released from Stanton Regional Hospital Monday morning after being treated for smoke inhalation.

"Kathy's hair is still black," said Kingsford. "It looked like she'd dyed it. Her hair is normally blond."

In addition to losing all her possessions, McKinnon may have to face the possibility of paying for the damages of the other tenants in the three-apartment dwelling.

Kingsford said she has sought legal advice to make sure McKinnon isn't liable to pay for the other tenants damages. She isn't sure what's going to happen yet.

Mike Lowing, deputy fire chief in Yellowknife, said that McKinnon's story is a familiar one.

"You don't have to have insurance, but having seen the downside, you should have it," he said. "We've seen people leave a fire with only the clothes on their back with very few options after that. They're on their own."

Dave Coy, an insurance adjuster with Arctic West Adjusters, said tenant insurance is inexpensive compared to the costs associated with losing possessions and having to pay for other people's property.

He's seen cases where people have had to pay up to $75,000 in liability fees to cover the cost of other people's damages.

In most cases, tenant insurance costs between $100 and $200 per year, depending on the amount of assets to be insured and the amount of liability requested.

"The bottom line is that tenant insurance is a necessary thing," said Coy.