On July 10, 2019, HIG client Katherine Quinn experienced a fire at her Bristol, Rhode Island, home. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. However, the damage to her home was extensive.

The fire’s flames and smoke left almost everything Kathy owned covered in ash and soot, while the bay water used to put out the blaze left her home and belongings drenched in saltwater. Particularly heartbreaking was the damage caused to Kathy’s art collection. She had hundreds of paintings and sculptures on display throughout her house at the time of the fire. Additionally, Kathy had been planning to host her daughter’s June 2020 wedding at her Bristol home. The idea that this momentous occasion would be held at her house now seemed like wishful thinking.

We last reported on this tragedy in September 2019, when it had been only a few months since the fire. So, what happened? Where is Kathy now? How did the process go? Was there a wedding after all? We knew you’d be anxious to hear how everything turned out for Kathy. Spoiler alert—it’s a lot of good news!

It takes a village to rebuild a home struck down by a fire.

Paul Burke, Kathy’s HIG insurance professional, was there to support his client from the very beginning. He was at Kathy’s house within minutes of receiving the phone call of the fire and helped with many important decisions that got the claims and recovery process started quickly.

Yet Paul and everyone else involved in the rebuild knew that this was going to be a massive undertaking. Kathy’s house was a large, older property that had previously gone through an incredibly detailed and handcrafted remodel. Not to mention the precious art that would require painstaking work to restore.

Similar home restorations often take over a year and half from the day of the fire until the homeowner moves back in. However, if there was to be a truly happy ending to this story, Kathy’s home would need to be ready for her daughter’s wedding, which was less than 12 months away.

The true heroes of any fire are the firefighters who battle the blaze and save so many homes and lives. But several other “heroes” had to be actively involved in the restoration process to get Kathy’s home and artwork back in pre-fire condition by late spring. The following are just a few of HIG’s partners that provided critical support.

  • Remediation Company. The day after the fire, the remediation company that Paul had contacted on behalf of Kathy started the cleanup. The remediation team went through the house with Kathy and Paul, helping to determine what needed to be replaced and what might be salvageable. This cleanup crew was also tasked with removing debris, standing water, smoke particles, and soot accumulation; eliminating the smell of smoke; and restoring the air quality in the home.
  • PURE Insurance. HIG is one of a select group of independent insurance brokers partnering with PURE, an insurance company that offers products specifically designed to meet the coverage needs of successful individuals and families. Paul and his team cultivated this relationship so that clients like Kathy could have access to specialty private client insurance solutions. A PURE adjustor was assigned to Kathy’s claim and was responsible for assessing the scope of the loss and negotiating an agreement with the building contractor on the plan and cost for restoring the home and its belongings to their original condition. PURE also designated a Member Advocate to work closely with Kathy throughout the claims process to help ensure it moved smoothly.
  • Art Rescue Disaster Services. Kathy and Paul had an art restoration company in mind for the job of restoring her paintings and sculptures. Art Rescue, a division of Cape Cod Picture Framing and Restoration located in Dennis, Massachusetts, had assisted Kathy with disaster services several years before, when a storage unit housing many of her fine art collectibles was badly damaged by fire. Art Rescue did an incredible job restoring her pieces back then, so naturally Kathy and Paul wanted to work with that team again. While Art Rescue was not on PURE’s list of approved vendors, Paul was able to get approval from the insurance company to use these local experts.

These are just a few of the businesses that were critical to the refurbishment of Kathy’s home and belongings. There were many others who contributed greatly, from the architectural firm to numerous local contractors like plumbers, electricians, and painters. Plus, Kathy herself played an instrumental role in making sure the restoration process moved along rapidly and to her satisfaction.

With so many experts involved in the rebuild and Kathy staying on top of everything, you might think Paul’s work was done. However, he continued to provide consistent support to his client. After all, that’s what an insurance hero does—sticks around through all the ups and downs until the job gets done.

One of Paul’s main objectives throughout the process was to make sure Kathy’s claim was being handled based on what her homeowners policy said it would do in this situation. No insured can possibly know the ins and outs of their insurance coverage and what they are entitled to according to these details better than their insurance agent.

Paul was always on high alert for anyone who might give Kathy the run-around or tell her she needed to do things that she really didn’t need to do. He was always there to make sure the process didn’t get slowed down by any unnecessary steps. And besides Kathy, he was the person most determined to get her back in her house in time to host her daughter’s wedding.

At HIG, we know what it takes to be your insurance hero.

For Kathy, July 10, 2019, marked the beginning of almost a yearlong journey to get back into her house. Paul was by her side the entire way. So, you can probably imagine how thrilled both of them were, in May 2020, when Kathy moved home just 11 months after it had been ravaged by a fire. Thanks to so many heroes, Kathy’s home was beautifully reinstated, and she is once again surrounded by the artwork and sculptures that mean so much to her.

What could make this ending even happier? A wedding, of course! Kathy hosted her daughter’s ceremony and reception at her gorgeous Bristol property that summer.

If you’re looking for an insurance partner with an exceptional understanding and familiarity with the insurance requirements of financially successful individuals and families, then please schedule a consultation with an HIG Private Client Insurance specialist today.

How do you restore artwork after a disaster?

We asked our friends at Art Rescue in Dennis, Massachusetts, to walk us through the art restoration steps used with Kathy’s pieces.

Treat for mold spores. Artwork that’s gotten wet needs immediate attention, as mold can form quickly. Since Kathy’s pieces had been exposed to water, the priority was to dry them out and fumigate for mold and mildew spores, using Art Rescue’s atomic fumigation system, a process the company invented. Fumigation also eliminates the very stubborn odor of smoke.

Evaluate for further treatment and store securely. After the initial fumigation treatment, each individual piece was assessed for damage and photographed for digital inventory. The treatment plan was then submitted to PURE for approval. While awaiting a response, Kathy’s artwork was stored in a private, climate-controlled location unknown to anyone but key employees of Art Rescue.

Clean the artwork. Soot, water stains, and varnish clouded by water damage were all elements that needed to be removed from Kathy’s art pieces. However, you can’t simply wipe these things away. Cleaning a piece of artwork is a meticulous process done in multiple stages and often by a rotating team of people. For example, with a painting, the process might start with carefully taking off the frame, removing the varnish top layer with a chemical mixture that won’t also strip the paint, re-varnishing, and then repairing or replacing the frame, if necessary.

Once Art Rescue’s team had completed restoration of Kathy’s artwork, they professionally packaged everything up and transported the ready-to-display pieces to her home. For more information about Art Rescue’s disaster services, contact Ron at (508) 737-1439.