Memories and Musings

On Good News and Not So Good News

Daffodils at Mount Vernon Estate. (Photo: Jordan Wright)

Alexandria, VA – The good news is that I have again earned a 5-star rating as an Airbnb host! The not-so-good news is that as I prepared to renew my Auto, Home, and Umbrella insurance policies, I saw the question, Is any part of your home used as a business?

Yes, I learned. Running an Airbnb in my home is considered a business, and the not-so-good news is that my insurance company would not consider any claim, guest-related or not, if a guest was renting the room at the time of the incident. Airbnb provides free insurance to hosts for guest-related thefts, accidents, and damage. I’m talking about my insurance company not covering any damage, guest-related or not, while a rental guest was leasing space in my home.

I felt gut-punched. As I negotiated the long, arduous process of exploring options, I was frustrated. And sad.

My youngest daughter Lynn reminded me not to sweat the small stuff, and of course, she is right. I’ve handled some big stuff in my time on this earth. By comparison, replacing insurance policies is small stuff. But still, but still, I was frustrated and sad.

Before I submitted this column, I sent it to Lynn, asking whether I sounded too whiny. She said no and reminded me not only was I replacing three insurance policies, but the DMV had also experienced its first snow in several years, I had a bad cold, I lost my credit card, and I was dealing with a truckload of connectivity problems: the tv, the computer keyboard, and the hearing aid battery charger all stopped working and had to be reset, probably due to a flicker of power outage caused by the snowstorm.

I also got a message from my solar energy company that the microinverters were not reporting. I had to look up what microinverters are. I found the solar panels covered in snow.

I’m better now. A week has passed, and I’ve signed up with State Farm, which offers the coverage I need. It was harder, I think, because of my limited ability with today’s technology. I feel like my grandparents must have felt when they immigrated to America. I don’t speak the language.

The other part is that it’s really hard to get help from a human. I listen to the menus on the telephone in English and Spanish. None apply to me and I say loudly—over and over—Representative! Representative!!!  I press “O“ and  I press “star” until eventually a person comes on the line. Then, sometimes the call is disconnected and I must go through the whole process again.

Small problem, I know. I have shelter. I have access to clean water and heat and food. I know, I know. I have the freedom to work my way through my problems, the very freedom I yearned for as a teenager when I cried to my parents, I want the right to my own black eyes!

Daffodils brave the snow. (Photo: Christa Watters)

Now I find I want a wife (may the wives reading this forgive me) or an administrative assistant, someone who will make the phone calls and negotiate the menus, someone who will help me survive this new world.

Although I can’t find it now, I remember a photograph of me as an infant, swaddled and held by my grandmother. Dare I say I want to be swaddled? Surely, it is okay sometimes to want a helpmate, someone who will say, “I’ve got this.”

So again, the good news: Some companies have relatively inexpensive riders or policies to insure owners who offer temporary rental space in their homes.  More good news is that my in-home guest room is open and available for rentals of 30 days or more.  Contact me at [email protected] if you’d like information about my new insurance agent or my Airbnb listing.

I am fortunate to have discovered the limitations my former insurance company imposed before renewing. It would have been bad news for sure if I’d had to file a claim and found out then!

And a touch more good news, though it is only mid-January as I write: Today, I saw daffodil bulbs breaking through the earth. Here’s a poem I wrote back in March 2002:


New stalk
Breaking through
Cold, hard

Yes, I say!
Yes, to life!
Yes to it all!

Nina Tisara is the founder of Living Legends of Alexandria.

ICYMI: Aspen on the Avenue Shusses to the Slopes in Del Ray!




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