Moral to the Story… When the Lights Go Out, Keep Them Out

On Tuesday, March 13th, 2012, I was driving into Boston to attend an event at a venue on Boylston Street. On the way in, you could see smoke bellowing from the south end of Back Bay, which is a part of Boston. At the event, the lights went out and we were told that the venue needed to shut down due to lack of power. What I didn’t know until I got outside was that the power was out as far as the eye could see. The smoke on the way in was a power sub-station in the Back Bay that was on fire. The fire took out the sub-station and resulted in a major portion of the Boston power grid to go down with it.

Fast forward to today. I had lunch at one of my favorite family-run restaurants in Boston. It is called Moby Dick House of Boston.

The owner and head chef at Moby Dick is Moti. Moti brought her family to America from Iran to pursue the freedoms that far too many of us take for granted. Moti played by the rules and always has. She came over and became part of this country legally and quickly found that making ends meet with a young family is not so easy. Some friends encouraged her to open a restaurant because her cooking was so good. As a single mother, this was not going to be an easy task. However, she decided to take the risk and opened Moby Dick. The name was based on a popular restaurant in Tehran that Moti’s family went to when she was a child. Twenty four years later, Moby Dick has become a staple in Boston for amazing home cooked Persian dishes. Moti still cooks six days a week.

One of the reasons why I go to Moby Dick is that the food is made with love. Moti greets me with a smile and I leave the rest to her. She decides on  which special I should have and she never misses. They are all amazing.

Today, something was off with Moti. She was distraught. When I asked her what was wrong, she teared up and shared a story that moved me to want to take some action. Moti told me that the power outage affected her restaurant and they had to close down. The power was down and the Boston Health Inspectors as they should, came to all the local food outlets and made them throw away any perishable foods. Moti complied before she was asked to and had to throw away thousands of dollars of food (she mentioned $15,000).

Moti has been paying for the mandated insurance for her restaurant for 24 years. She said that she has payed over $240,000 in premiums over this time and never made a claim.

Her insurance company, Travelers (and you should Tweet them if you don’t like this), has denied her claim because she opened before a seemingly arbitrary 72 hour window. Moti, playing by the rules opened her restaurant as soon as she could when the power came back on. As I mentioned, Moby Dick is a staple of that neighborhood with local residents and students. In opening hours before the 72 hour arbitrary insurance window, her Traveller’s Insurance agent says that she cannot make the claim.

She also called NStar (the power company responsible for the outage) with no luck on getting any  kind of support. Moti also mentioned that a neighboring restaurant purposely waited and stayed closed for the entire 72 hours. Apparently they knew something that Moti didn’t and they were able to make the claim.

There is something wrong in Boston when a local business plays by the rules and ultimately is penalized for this. If you agree with this, please join me in making some noise to help Moti get the respect that she has surely earned to get a resolution to this issue.

2 responses to “Moral to the Story… When the Lights Go Out, Keep Them Out

  1. Ugh. This is the kind of thing that makes me nuts. When people make decisions that could result in a business savings and are penalized for it. This woman got back to work as quickly as possible, minimizing the costs for her insurance company and now can’t file a claim. Meanwhile, the people who play the game and stay closed, increasing what the insurance company would have to pay (a bigger claim), are covered. Shouldn’t Travelers be rewarding the businesses who save them money? I’ll give NStar a pass on this one — they seem to be working under the assumption that everyone is covered by their insurance, as they should be. Travelers, please explain, or stop playing games.

  2. Unfortunately issues like this is what gives Insurance companies, bad names and reputations.. Here a business owner pays their premiums, and then when they have a claim, they get the runaround.

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