Fargo enterprise owned by former ND commerce commissioner recovering following water most important break – InForum

Fargo enterprise owned by former ND commerce commissioner recovering following water most important break – InForum

FARGO — A Fargo enterprise that suffered flood harm from a water most important break in February has bounced again from the ordeal.

Nonetheless, the proprietor of the enterprise has “lower than great” issues to say about how a transfer from Minnesota to North Dakota has gone, in addition to her interactions with the Metropolis of Fargo’s insurance coverage supplier.

“They have been impolite. They have been dismissive. It felt just like the film ‘Erin Brockovich’ — individuals getting most cancers from the (energy) plant have been simply dismissed, and that is what this felt like,” mentioned HighRoad Companions proprietor Michelle Kommer, referring to the North Dakota Insurance coverage Reserve Fund, a nonnprofit group that serves as a self-insurance pool for North Dakota political subdivisions, together with the Metropolis of Fargo.

Kommer cleanup.jpg

Michelle Kommer, far proper, says she is grateful for cleanup assist from co-workers and others after a water most important break brought on harm to her downtown Fargo enterprise and residential in February 2023.

Contributed / HighRoad Companions

A spokesman for the North Dakota Insurance coverage Reserve Fund expressed sympathy for Kommer’s scenario, however maintained that below state regulation, town and subsequently the company are usually not obligated to cowl any losses arising from the water most important break.

Kommer launched

HighRoad Companions,

which provides insurance coverage to people and small companies, in addition to human useful resource companies,

about three years in the past after buying Arneson Ovsak, a Moorhead company

that specialised in promoting insurance coverage.

After shopping for and rebranding the Moorhead insurance coverage company, Kommer, who not too long ago served as North Dakota’s commerce commissioner, moved the enterprise throughout the Crimson River to downtown Fargo and undertook

a multimillion-dollar rehab of two storefronts

at 209 and 211 NP Ave.

A portion of the property homes the enterprise aspect of HighRoad Companions, whereas the second ground is house to Kommer and her household.

Kommer mentioned she was in her house the morning of Feb. 7 when a co-worker known as to alert her that flooding was occurring within the basement of the constructing.

“I got here downstairs to seek out the basement stuffed with about 4 1/2 toes of water gushing with a present. I noticed one among my daughter’s child footwear touring in a present that got here round a nook; it was then I spotted the severity of the scenario,” Kommer mentioned, recalling the incident.


Michelle Kommer says the decrease degree of her enterprise and residential in downtown Fargo was left in shambles after it was flooded with water and clay following a water most important break.

Contributed / HighRoad Companions

Having not too long ago moved in, Kommer mentioned they nonetheless hadn’t unpacked some issues, together with plastic tubs containing household mementos and photographs.

The basement additionally contained a newly assembled fitness center, her daughter’s engagement presents and furnishings, based on Kommer, who added that new water heaters and boilers had not too long ago been put in within the decrease degree as nicely.

Kommer mentioned that prior to creating the pressing name to her that morning, her co-worker had ran exterior to alert a crew of metropolis staff who have been in entrance of the enterprise coping with a water most important break.

Kommer mentioned her co-worker had been conscious of the presence of the work crew for some time, however hadn’t realized water was coming into the basement till she heard unusual noises coming from that space.


Former North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer bought Arneson Osvak, a Moorhead company that specialised in promoting insurance coverage insurance policies to people and small companies, in 2020. She relaunched the enterprise as HighRoad Companions and added “in-sourced” human useful resource companies. David Samson / The Discussion board

In accordance with Kommer, one of many metropolis staff got here into the enterprise and handed her a card, stating he was sorry about what had occurred and that they have been engaged on getting the water shut off.

She added that she and others within the workplace have been advised by town employee that it was a metropolis water most important break and town’s insurance coverage would cowl it.

Kommer mentioned she acquired the decision from her co-worker round 7:47 a.m. and she or he estimated the water was turned off a little bit earlier than 9 a.m.

In addition to private gadgets misplaced, Kommer mentioned the flooding took out a brand new elevator in addition to the brand new water heaters and boilers.

Screenshot 2023-05-18 171308.jpg

Private and household belongings have been among the many issues broken when a water most important break in February despatched water and clay into the basement of a enterprise and residential in downtown Fargo owned by Michelle Kommer.

Contributed / Highroad Companions

All advised, she mentioned the harm attributable to the water and enormous quantities of mucky clay that discovered its approach into the decrease degree of her constructing exceeded $500,000.

And, based on Kommer, what town employee advised her concerning the metropolis’s insurance coverage masking the harm turned out to not be the case, because the North Dakota Insurance coverage Reserve Fund has advised Kommer town shouldn’t be liable for any damages attributable to the flooding.

As well as, Kommer mentioned her business and home-owner insurance coverage suppliers have additionally denied protection, stating the harm was not coated below her insurance policies.

Kommer mentioned she anticipated her business and home-owner insurance coverage would not cowl the loss, however she believes a case might be made that town’s insurance coverage ought to present some type of compensation.

She mentioned there is no such thing as a appeals course of out there relating to the insurance coverage reserve fund’s choice and she or he mentioned the result of any lawsuit would possible hinge on the query of negligence.

Kommer mentioned it’s laborious to know what sort of case may be made, because the North Dakota Insurance coverage Reserve Fund, citing the potential for pending litigation, is not offering her with details about the water most important break.

“They’ve blocked us from a really early level,” she mentioned, including that apart from the query of who may be liable for the harm, she’s been been dismayed by what she described as disrespectful communication from the insurance coverage reserve fund.

“All I’ve are these very insensitive individuals telling me what their guidelines are and I am simply alleged to imagine them,” she mentioned.

Brennan Quintus, CEO of the North Dakota Insurance coverage Reserve Fund, mentioned that for NDIRF protection to use, the Metropolis of Fargo must be legally obligated to pay for the property harm.

However, based on Quintus, the North Dakota Supreme Court docket has held that cities offering water service accomplish that in a governmental capability for the general public welfare and cities are resistant to claims of harm ensuing from their operation and upkeep of water programs.

He mentioned the NDIRF claims staff has totally investigated the declare made by HighRoad Companions and has decided the info point out town of Fargo is immune from swimsuit below North Dakota regulation and, subsequently, town shouldn’t be legally obligated to pay for the property harm and NDIRF protection can’t apply.

The harm to HighRoad Companions, Quintus added, “is extremely unlucky. As I discussed to Michelle Kommer just a few weeks in the past, I might not want this example on anybody. Nonetheless, the NDIRF is unable to pay the declare.”

Kommer mentioned she is grateful she had the sources to resist the setback, and she or he mentioned operations on the company have been absolutely restored.

She additionally famous she is grateful for the assist of associates and associates, in addition to Fargo firefighters who helped following the incident.

As well as, Kommer mentioned she appreciated the truth that

Mayor Tim Mahoney

got here by the enterprise “and tried to assist, no matter which will imply.”

Kommer acknowledged she did not at all times use her greatest manners when coping with NDIRF, however she mentioned she does not wish to see anybody else handled the best way she was.

“I do suppose there must be some reform. I feel (the North Dakota) insurance coverage division ought to have extra oversight over NDIRF,” Kommer mentioned, including she want to see North Dakota set up a fund that might supply low-interest loans to companies that have one thing just like what she went by, noting she’s undecided there may be insurance coverage protection out there for what she was hit with.

“They’ve already mentioned ‘no’ to the insurance coverage, so give me a low-interest mortgage,” Kommer mentioned, including that the ordeal was the worst welcome-to-North Dakota present conceivable.

In on the lookout for silver linings, Kommer mentioned there are some, even with the lack of her new elevator.

“I’ve to take the steps, so I get extra steps,” she mentioned.