When KSMQ-TV’s tower collapsed on Sept. 5, 2012 in Austin, Minn. during a severe wind and rain storm, the public television station turned to their insurance carrier to assist them in covering their anticipated cost of $620,000 to replace their 444-foot tall guyed tower.
Then The Hanover Insurance Group threw them a curve ball, stating that they weren’t going to cover the claim since the tower fell not because of the storm, but because one of the 30-year-old tower’s anchors was faulty.
For two years KSMQ and Hanover’s experts sparred over the cause of the collapse, but they took off the gloves, went to a mediation hearing, and reached an agreement on Thursday that will have Hanover providing an undisclosed amount of money to rebuild the tower.
Hanover had originally said that their engineering firm’s report indicated the anchor was badly corroded for most of its length and broke off during the storm. Their expert suggested this corrosion would have been noticeable for at least the past 10 years.
KSMQ countered that the corrosion would have been about two feet below the ground, which would prevent the corroded anchor from being spotted during routine maintenance. In addition, their structural engineer identified that high-line winds were the likely cause of the tower’s collapse.
Although many major tower consolidators will dig around the exposed anchor rod to identify whether it is corroded, KSMQ had submitted testimony from industry professionals who stated that it was not a normal process to check anchors for corrosion under the ground by digging them out.
A state investigator and a forensic meteorologist came to Austin in June to investigate the dispute. KSMQ has an agreement through 2017 to broadcast through towers owned by television station KTTC.