Mission Street Fire Requires Novel Solution
Hardware store’s recovery almost jeopardized
Massive Mission Street fire requires novel solution. Insurer’s response jeopardizes a hardware store’s recovery
One Saturday afternoon in June, a five-alarm blaze broke out in a trash receptacle in a building along Mission Street in the Cole Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. The fire spread quickly, engulfing six buildings causing extensive damage — including Cole Hardware’s building — whose losses totaled $14 million in property damage. The fire department report stated the cause was likely an improperly discarded cigarette or barbecue charcoals.
The original Cole Hardware store opened in the Cole Valley neighborhood in the 1920s. Dave Karp purchased the store in 1959 and ran the entire operation as a one-man show from the tiny space that is now the warehouse and storage area for the Cole Street store.
At the time of the fire, Cole, an Ace Hardware franchisee, had four locations and the successful Mission Street store had been in business for 32 years. Unfortunately, the fire completely gutted the Mission Street building and left it a complete loss. Luckily, there were no injuries.
The day after the fire, Cole’s president, Rick Karp, called a consultant who had managed other claims for him in the past. Due to the size of this claim, the consultant suggested that Cole hire Adjusters International/Matrix Business Consulting to manage the claim and provide the company with counsel and assistance navigating its insurance coverage situation.
Cole Hardware needed to secure a new spot to reopen, however with the real estate market in San Francisco being extremely tight, the available square footage was insufficient to serve as a temporary store. The need to reopen forced Cole Hardware to split the store’s operation between two temporary locations. The first served as the retail portion, while the second served as a warehouse. The insurance company balked at this solution, failing to understand why Cole needed to have two locations for one store.
Working closely with Cole Hardware, The Adjusters International/Matrix Business Consulting team quickly and carefully constructed a claim that justified why why the insurance company should pay the full value on the business interruption claim and the extra expense claim for the two temporary locations.
The Adjusters International/Matrix Business Consulting team faced a drawn-out and difficult negotiation with the insurance carrier, but refused to waiver. Working long hours, the team continued to pursue an equitable settlement that would provide Cole Hardware with the full value it was entitled to under its policy. In the end, they reached a settlement that was one-third more than what the insurance company had initially offered.