Vehicle collisions rock Idaho businesses

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In April 2022, a Nampa resident crashed his vehicle into the front doors of an Idaho liquor store, leaving a trail of damage in his wake. Elite Restoration, a restoration company with six offices in southern Idaho, quickly responded to the scene.

“We were on site within one to two hours and cleaned all the glass. The whole process took approximately six to eight hours and then we put it together,” said Jarin McKnight, director of western Idaho operations at Elite Restoration.

The confrontation at the liquor store was not an isolated incident. In November 2023, a minivan plowed into Baird’s dry cleaners on Broadway Avenue. Just last month in December 2023, a drunk driver crashed into the Boise Bicycle Project, a bicycle nonprofit on Lusk Street that was in the midst of preparing for a holiday bike giveaway for kids. The organization is now turning to the local community for support in the aftermath.

These incidents drive a closer look at business preparedness and the importance of having plans in place to recover and prevent unforeseen events.

According to the Swiss Re Institute, an insurance risk analysis organization, claims costs for homeowners and commercial properties increased year-over-year by 36 percent and 30 percent, respectively. The increases were “driven by inflation and losses from natural disasters and a slowdown in overall industry profitability,” the institute said. The increases are also causing insurers to limit coverage in crash-prone markets.

Elite Restoration performs approximately 200 commercial restoration projects each year in southern Idaho. Specializing in residential and commercial property damage restoration, the company deals with a range of issues, from water and fire damage to flood and mold.

According to McKnight, the typical cleanup process for a local business or customer seeking recovery assistance begins with documenting the damage. It then calls a customer service representative, who gathers information and dispatches emergency response teams.

Once the emergency response phase is complete, McKnight said his company initiates contact with the customer’s insurance company using the claim numbers and adjuster details provided. The subsequent negotiation process with the insurance company guarantees an agreed repair price, allowing his company to coordinate effectively with the property owner to schedule repairs. Throughout the process, the company facilitates customer-driven upgrades, allowing them to use insurance funds and bring in additional resources for desired improvements, be it flooring or other modifications.

Even in cases where only half of the building is functional, ensuring its safety for customers until the renovations are completed becomes a priority.

“One of our key priorities is to minimize downtime for businesses — time is of the essence, especially when they face a potential loss of revenue. We aim to be on site as soon as possible to begin the cleanup and recovery process,” McKnight explained. “To minimize potential hazards, we make sure they can be opened or not.”

To reduce the risks of structural damage, the company suggests businesses consider installing poles where possible. These metal bollards serve as protective barriers, reducing the risk of vehicle collisions with buildings and preventing vehicle-related damage.

“The Valley Country Store in Shoshone was raided [by a vehicle] about three times within the same year,” McKnight said. “They ended up installing poles in every single one of their stores in southern Idaho, and they still haven’t suffered the damage from that since.”

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