Underinsured & Out of Time

 
West Valley Shopping Center in Fitchburg, Massachusetts suffered a complete loss due to a four-alarm fire.

West Valley Shopping Center in Fitchburg, Massachusetts suffered a complete loss due to a four-alarm fire.

West Valley Shopping Center on River Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, was home to 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, but her mother, who owned the plaza.

The owner quickly discovered that her insurance policy would only cover a small percentage of the school’s contents, which totaled more than $300,000.

But 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 the school’s owner, “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 the owner 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, the owner was forced to take out personal loans and use her children’s 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 the owner. “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.”

The cosmetology school’s new Lunenburg, Massachusetts location under construction.

The cosmetology school’s new Lunenburg, Massachusetts location under construction.

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. The owner 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 the owner 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.

New barber equipment fills the rebuilt cosmetology school facility.

New barber equipment fills the rebuilt cosmetology school facility.

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 the owner. “I did my research and Len is the one person who had the most experience adjusting losses. The man can walk on water.”

 
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Leonard Theran, SPPA

Len earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Stanford University. He has more than 35 years of adjusting experience and also earned the SPPA designation. Because he has also been involved in the management of several high-tech companies, Len has a unique perspective when adjusting industrial losses. He is a past-President of the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (MAPIA) and is on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) and CAI-New Hampshire. He has also qualified as an Expert Witness and has been a featured speaker before several organizations including the Risk and Insurance Management Society, the Institute of Real Estate Management and Lorman Education Services.

Len is licensed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.