Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

Slightly Off the Mark: I've Heard Insurance is a Zoo, but This is Ridiculous

Here's something you don't see in rural Indiana fields every day ...

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I heard someone say recently that the only thing of any interest in the Albion area is the Black Pine Animal Park.

That’s not true, of course – in fact, it’s a sign of an incredibly limited imagination to say that about any place, let alone here. (And no, I’m not telling you who it is so you can make their life “interesting”.)

However, Black Pine Animal Park, which I shall shorten to B-PAP –

Um, maybe not. We’ll just call it Black Pine.

While far from the only thing of interest in Albion, it is a jewel in the Noble County Seat’s crown. Churubusco has its legendary turtle; Huntertown has a really bitchin’ name for a town; Kendallville has a windmill museum, and so on. (I think the windmill museum should be in Indianapolis, where most of the hot air blows.)

Granted, Albion has the Old Jail Museum, and our title as Gateway to Chain O’ Lakes State Park, and a courthouse that’s awe-inspiring if you care to notice; but how many other towns have lions, and tigers, and bears, and … do they have bears? Let me check.

Yep. And – oh my! Snakes! And a tortoise – THAT’S where the Busco turtle went! Not to mention the lion, which I already mentioned, and leopard, and cougar, and the –

I’d imagine anyone who tried to burglarize the place would be in for a nasty surprise.

I make fun – that’s my job – but Black Pine faces a crisis that may lead to it no longer being around. The story goes that it boils down to an insurance issue; not on the park itself, but on a house on the same property. Insurance agencies, apparently spooked by the animal sanctuary, are refusing to continue to insure the house (the park has its own insurance).

There’s a lot I don’t understand about this, starting with why a company that’s insured a place for 20 years would give so little warning that all of the sudden they didn’t want to take the owner’s money anymore. I’m also wondering why a concrete decision on whether Black Pine should move or buy the place has to be made in two weeks, and why they have to stop infrastructure work on the park. If they end up moving, wouldn’t a new building left behind just be sauce for whoever owns it? And why would the house be insurable if owned by Black Pine, but not if owned by someone else? It’s the same piece of property.

Now Black Pine is caught between a rock and a hard place. (Actually, they’re caught between a road and a cemetery, being landlocked as they are.) If they decide to stay, how does a place with an annual budget of $165,000 come up with the asking price of $411,000? If they decide to leave, how do they find, buy, and set up a piece of property, and pull off a complete relocation before October?

I know what you’re thinking: “Gee, Mark, you’re a public servant, and so smart and educated and stuff. What do you think they should do?”

Heck, I dunno. And by the way, being smart and being educated are two different things.

I’m continually trying to educate myself on the subject of insurance, and I’ve come to the conclusion that not only is there little understanding of how insurance companies operate, but they don’t want anyone to know how they operate; and most of them don’t really understand how they operate, either. On the face of it, what the insurance company is said to have decided in this case makes no sense. Under the face of it, it still makes no sense. Something tells me pointing that out won’t change anyone’s mind.

Four hundred thousand bucks is a good chunk of change, and moving several dozen annoyed wild animals with sharp teeth is no picnic, either. (A picnic for the animals, maybe.) I don’t think U-Haul will even rent out for stuff like that.

I’d like to see Black Pine in a place where they have room to grow, but I don’t want them to leave Albion, either. Maybe each resident of Albion could agree to take in an animal – I could keep a llama in the back yard and a Macaw in the basement, for instance. But who volunteers to house the tiger? Or the African serval? (Okay, what is an African serval?) I doubt anyone could get the baboon to do dishes, and cleaning up after the camel would be quite the chore.

No, I don’t have a solution. So I’m putting it out there, because Black Pine is Albion born and bred, a great thing for the community and Noble County, and I’m hoping there’s someone smarter than me who can come up with some ideas. So speak up, people.

Don’t make me sic the lionheaded rabbit on you. Or worse, the insurance companies.
Tags: albion, slightly off the mark, weekly column
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