West Valley Shopping Center on River Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, was home to Alexander Academy, a thriving cosmetology and barber school.
On the night of March 4, 2015, a four-alarm fire destroyed the entire shopping center, resulting in a total loss for not only the school’s owner, Phyllis Gertsios, but her mother, who owned the plaza.
Gertsios quickly discovered that her insurance policy would only cover a small percentage of the school’s contents, which totaled more than $300,000.
But’s that’s not all.The school was an accredited educational institution, licensed by the federal, state and local governments. If the school was not up-and-running within 30 days, it would lose its funding. And, the insurance company was dragging its feet.
“There was no light at the end of tunnel,” says Gertsios, “until Len Theran stepped in and got things moving.”
“The amount of personal property in the policy was very low, so the insurance company did not take the loss seriously,” noted Theran, a Public Adjuster with decades of experience.
It took several weeks, but Theran was able to get a senior adjuster at the insurance company assigned to the loss—someone who would take a serious look at the claim and be able to act quickly so that Gertsios would have a chance to receive some advance funding and re-establish the business within the 30-day period.
But time was ticking. So, in the meantime, Gertsios was forced to take out personal loans and use her kids’ college education funds to finance a fit-up in a new location and the purchase of all new equipment.
“It was a humbling experience,” says Gertsios. “And highly stressful. One of the things that I learned was that I needed to have patience and to trust that Len would take care of it.”
Theran’s efforts to secure advance payments on behalf of his client were rewarded by obtaining a partial advance in time to help the school. Gertsios used part of the first disbursement of funds from the insurance company to pay her employees, who trusted that she would persevere and stayed by her side helping to clean, paint and move equipment into the new space at 55 Massachusetts Avenue in Lunenburg. Friends, family and local contractors came to her aid, and helped Gertsios open the new school in just 16 days—two weeks ahead of the 30-day deadline.
Although the school’s policy had limited coverage for contents, it contained other coverages and features that, with a lot of work by Theran, his team and some legal counsel, were ultimately substantiated and submitted as part of the insurance claim.
“We had to obtain legal help that supported one of the key portions of our claim. As a result, after a long and arduous two-year process, a satisfactory settlement was obtained and the school is now thriving,” notes Theran. “Patrice Green, PLA’s Office Manager, spent a great deal of time compiling the elements of the claim necessary to prove the loss. She was instrumental in its success,” adds Theran.
Theran’s experience understanding and interpreting the language of the policy resulted in the claim being settled for an amount that was 65 times the face amount of the policy.
“I am so grateful that someone handed me that business card and told me I needed to hire these people,” notes Gertsios. “I did my research and Len is the one person who had the most experience adjusting losses. The man can walk on water.”
Alexander Academy is a premier cosmetology and barbering school located in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. The school accepts monthly enrollments with new classes beginning the first Monday of every month. For more information, visit their website at www.alexanderacademy.com
[Download the checklist: Things You Should Do Immediately Following an Insurance Loss]