Wright Insurance declines coverage for CLN

After trustees voted to change the Community Library Network’s insurance policies, the insurer they sought to contract with has declined coverage, citing current unresolved claims.

Redman Insurance notified library staff and trustees Tuesday that Wright Speciality Insurance will decline the mid-term insurance policy for CLN, Library Director Alexa Eccles said. A formal letter is expected from Wright this week.

“The network cannot move forward with this,” Eccles said Wednesday.

During the Feb. 15 board meeting, Chair Rachelle Ottosen, Vice Chair Tom Hanley and Trustee Tim Plass voted to accept insurance from Wright and American Family Insurance, as presented by broker Redman and Company Insurance, and cancel the network’s present coverage with the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program and Great American Insurance. Trustees Katie Blank and Vanessa Robinson cast dissenting votes.

Because the board voted to accept insurance from both Wright and American Family Insurance, Wright’s denial means the library network cannot move ahead with only American Family Insurance.

The vote took place as Post Falls and Athol libraries are closed and undergoing mitigation from water damage that occurred in January when extreme cold caused fire suppression systems to burst, flooding the buildings.

The two facilities have been closed since mid-January. Restoring them to full functionality will be no small feat — nearly 6,000 boxes are ready to pack up and temporarily store the more than 63,000 books and materials housed at the Post Falls Library alone.

“Stop for a second and realize that we are in the middle of a multimillion-dollar claim that is pending,” Eccles said to the trustees at the Feb. 15 meeting. “We are not highly insurable until that is resolved.”

The library network, which includes libraries in Post Falls, Hayden, Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, Harrison, Pinehurst and Athol, as well as a bookmobile, is fully insured under its current plan.

“We’re fully covered and we’re good through Sept. 30,” Eccles said. “There’s no crisis or concern when it comes to being fully insured. We are.”

Considering the CLN’s current issues, Robinson told The Press via email she is not surprised by this development.

“I hold on to hope that the board will make responsible decisions moving forward,” she said.

The other trustees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eccles said in a statement that will go out in the network’s March newsletter that ICRMP is expected to cover most repair costs for the Post Falls Library but will not provide enough funds to cover moving and replacing all of the books and materials that were a loss due to water damage.

The Athol Library is a much smaller facility with only a handful of books destroyed.

“It appears the library’s insurer will fund the expense of moving books, which will allow us to fast track this library’s repairs and reopening,” she said.

Staff members are exploring options to restore convenience services such as pickup of holds and a book return prior to a full re-opening. The Post Falls Library is expected to be closed for as many as eight months for repairs. The Athol Library may reopen late summer.

Community volunteers are needed to help library staff box up and move the Post Falls Library collection. Work will begin around March 11. Monetary donations to the library’s foundation are welcome. Funds can be dedicated to assist the library in replacing books and DVDs lost in the calamity. The Post Falls Library lost about 7,100 items, mainly large print books, books on CDs, mp3 players and DVDs due to water.

Call 208-773-1506 or email postfalls@communitylibrary.net to volunteer at the Post Falls Library.

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