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Archives Risk manager to retire after decade of service

Sept. 19, 2018

Deacon Kevin Mastellon
Contributing writer

Ogdensburg – The Diocese of Ogdensburg is self-insured. Well, up to $250,000 per loss for liability and propertyJack Carter claims. Think of it as a $250,000 deductible. That is oversimplifying but it gives you a sense of the exposure each time someone files a claim or a parish, or school has a fire or wind damage. If the claim is greater than the $250,000 amount, excess coverage policies kick-in. Parishes and schools all pay annual premiums to maintain the insurance coverage administered by the Diocese.

Jack Carter, the diocesan director of insurance claims and risk manager, believes the diocese had to reach into the excess coverage only once in the 30 years he and his predecessor, Harry Granger, handled insurance matters for the Diocese.

Only once until September 2014, that is.

According to Carter, “that’s when everything turned upside down.”

The night before school was to open at St. Mary’s School in Ticonderoga someone set fire to the school. It remains an open investigation.

There was at least once teacher in the school at the time, readying her classroom for the student’s arrival. The teacher and the school principal saw someone run from the building. Firemen were unable to save the structure. The loss has been settled in the neighborhood of $4.5 million. The rebuilt school has reopened, but the arson case is still open with no arrest.

A few months later, fire broke out in the circa 1900 wing of St. Mary’s Academy in Champlain. Aside from the Boy Scouts, who stored some camping equipment in that part of the structure, the building was not used.

Two wings added to the original building over the years were extensively damaged. The total loss will be in theSt. Mary's Champlain neighborhood of $4 million when the case is settled. No cause for that fire has been determined.

For Jack Carter these fires meant difficult months, years of assessment, negotiation and review.

The diocesan self-insurance account took a sizeable hit of half a million dollars. But the prudent management of the diocesan insurance program over the years, under the direction of diocesan Fiscal Officer Michael Tooley, means the program remains solvent and worked as designed.

The Diocese has over 180 locations covered under the liability and property lines of insurance. Each location may have multiple buildings or facilities.

The total insurable assets are in the range of $125 million dollars.

Each year Carter, wearing his risk manager credentials, visits half the properties. He conducts safety inspections to bring to the responsible persons attention (pastor, principal, building supervisor) any potential causes for injury or other loss.

“For the most part people are very cooperative and agreeable,” Carter said. “Pastors are usually pretty good about sending me the inspection sheet with notations that this or that problem was addressed and when.”
After eleven years on the job, Jack Carter will retire October 31, 2018.

“I think I’ll miss doing the safety inspections the most,” Carter said. “I like chatting with the pastors or the superintendents or custodians; whoever is with me on the tours. I’ll miss some of the buildings too, mostly the churches and some of the other facilities, like the rectories, that are so beautiful.”

After graduating from the State University at Albany in 1973, Carter found himself working as an adjuster for one of the two large insurance adjustment firms. His career took him to Syracuse where he worked as an adjuster for several companies before succeeding Granger as the insurance director for the diocese.

He and wife Barbara were married in 1978. They have one son, a third-year medical school student at Upstate Medical University.

Carter looks forward to “not working.”

“Maybe I’ll have more time to do some hunting and fishing.”

Perhaps he can revisit some of those places he recalls with a little bit of emotion and more than a little fondness.

The rectory in Alexandria Bay is one. He calls it a woodworking masterpiece. The oratory at Churubusco is an unmatched field stone construction. The roof is unique. The oratories at West Peru, Antwerp and Paul Smiths are all favorites. But he considers the rectory at Port Henry to have the most breathtaking view of them all.

Perhaps in retirement he can drive up there again and “just lean against the car and look out over the countryside and Lake Champlain.”

Carl Miller

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