South Coast ESD advises organizations to contact PACE agent when disaster strikes

Early on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, a fire ravaged the headquarters of the South Coast Education Service District in Coos Bay. By the time the fire was out, 20 percent of the building lay in ruin.

Acting-superintendent Tenneal Wetherell said that the ESD staff, despite the obvious hardship the fire had caused, maintained its focus on serving the students, their families and the school districts within the South Coast ESD's service area.

Based on her experience, Wetherell offers the following advice to ESDs, school districts and community colleges that suffer fires or similar disasters.

"It is imperative that you call your insurance representative immediately, regardless of the time of day," she says. "I credit where we are today with an immediate response to my 5-a.m. phone call to our agent who put us in touch with Horizon Restoration. Within an hour we had people on site helping us to evaluate the damage and prioritize a response."

Wetherell says the first hours and days after a fire are overwhelming. "There are many decisions to make, and you meet a lot of new people who have different roles. It is important to designate key decision makers in both the insurance and restoration arenas and establish methods of communication. As a group you can determine how to move forward. This will save time, assist with decision making and reduce confusion during an extremely stressful time."

Traumatic as this event was for the staff and the board members of the South Coast ESD, it was no financial catastrophe, thanks to the district's insurance coverage with PACE. The claims-management staff at PACE guarantees a 24-hour response time on any claim, and they focus on resolving claims fairly and appropriately. In fact, they have more experience handling education-related claims than anyone else in Oregon. They are well-versed in state and federal law and backed by the best education law experts in the state.

To get answers to questions about claims, contact a PACE claims staff member at 503-670-7066 or 800-305-1736.