Insurance Lacking for Some Who Lost Horses Killed In Mich. Arson Case

October 4, 2006

Owners of some of the 18 horses killed in a St. Clair County barn fire are finding out that they did not have enough insurance to replace all of what they lost.

Farm owner Beverly McCollum owned nine of the horses killed in the Sept. 9 fire in Clyde Township, but only had partial insurance, $4,000 worth for a $25,000 horse, on one of them. Insuring all of the horses would have been too expensive, she said.

“It’s a very, very expensive business, and I’ve had 40 years to collect all the things lost in the fire,” McCollum told the Times Herald of Port Huron. “And obviously, I’m not going to have anywhere near the money to get back to where I was.”

Some others didn’t have insurance. Snickers, a horse ridden by Kelly Campbell, 15, of Wales Township, died in the blaze. Insurance paperwork still was sitting on a table her family’s home the morning of the fire.

John Jay Searles, 23, of Marysville faces nine criminal charges for the blaze at the barn and five other fires police said he started that day. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

While McCollum had insurance on the barn, after the fire she learned it probably wouldn’t cover rebuilding. Contractors said it would cost $300,000, but McCollum doesn’t expect to get more than $125,000 from her insurance company. The contractor’s estimate doesn’t include wiring, concrete floors or replacing the $10,000 lab McCollum said she built for a horse-breeding operation.

The Michigan Horse Council, a statewide advocacy group for horse owners, said only about 20 percent of the state’s horse owners have insurance.

Topics Michigan Arson

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