Cocoanut Grove Fire Anniversary

What was the Cocoanut Grove Fire?

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the most devastating nightclub fire in US history, The Cocoanut Grove fire which took place in Boston on November 28, 1942. The popular nightclub, located on Piedmont Street in the Bay Village neighborhood, offered patrons several levels of a tropical party atmosphere with music, dancing, dining, and cocktails. While the club’s legal capacity was 460, there was an estimated 1,000 Thanksgiving weekend club-goers there the night of the fire.

The fire, which was deemed of “unknown origin,” started at about 10:15 pm and spread quickly through the Melody Lounge on the lower level of the club. Materials used in the club’s décor and the structure of the building created a perfect environment for the fire which moved faster than the patrons could escape. Non-functioning or hidden exits, and the single revolving door at the front of the building which became inoperable as the panicked crowd charged the exit, made escape almost impossible. Many guests were overcome by smoke while still in their seats. Four-hundred and ninety-two people lost their lives.

Insurance implications

As a result of this incident, fire safety laws in Boston and throughout the US were changed to ensure the wellbeing of nightclub patrons. If this happened today, and the owners of the Cocoanut Grove had fire mitigation in place but a fire broke out anyway, the building losses would be covered. Any damage to surrounding and adjacent buildings would be covered by their own insurance policies.

How could a public adjuster help?

A public adjuster could represent any of the building owners in their building damage claims, including the owners of the Cocoanut Grove. A public adjuster would estimate the extent of the damage and the degree of coverage and act as the building owner’s representative to the insurance company. A public adjuster would also help manage remediation vendors, including emergency board-up the night of the fire. If business interruption is an issue, the public adjuster could manage that part of the claim as well.

Get more information about the Cocoanut Grove fire

Here’s a little video of experts discussing the fire:

If you want to read more about the fire, check out a book called Fire in the Grove, by John C. Esposito. It’s a great book with highly detailed accounts of the people involved, the club, that night’s events, and the aftermath of the fire.

Interesting facts

Along with several other safety laws enacted as a result of the Cocoanut Grove fire, a lesser known law is that no club in Boston can ever use the name Cocoanut Grove, forever.

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc. has more than fifty years in the insurance adjusting field and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. We have adjusted every type of property claim there is: fire, storms, water, robbery, you name it. Licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas, we can handle your claim from start to finish. Contact us today via email or telephone 508-588-4243.

What’s a Flood?


Don’t just assume that a flood is not covered by your regular homeowner’s policy. The insurance industry uses the term “flood” very specifically as water that has crossed the ground and entered the house uninvited. This is the type of flood that needs to be covered by flood insurance from the federal government – the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

To regular people, a “flood” is just a lot of water where it’s not supposed to be. Several years ago, a contractor broke a pipe in my apartment. To me, six inches of water on my floor looked exactly like a flood. To the insurance company, it was called a “pipe burst” and it was covered by my policy. A short time before that, water came in across the ground and through my windows, which were at grade level. That was a “flood” and the damage it caused was not covered.

Here are some more examples of the differences between what type of water damage is covered by your regular homeowner’s policy and what needs a special flood policy from NFIP.

Covered by the homeowner’s policy

  • If your home or building is damaged from the outside by a covered peril (wind, fire, explosion, etc.) and rain gets into the house because of that damage – through a hole in the roof for example – that is a covered loss on the regular homeowner’s policy.

  • If the water originates inside the house like from burst pipes, plumbing overflows, dishwasher/washing machine malfunctions, or kids putting in too much detergent – all covered.

Covered by the National Flood Insurance Program

  • If a storm overflows a body of water near you and water comes over the ground and into your home, that’s an NFIP claim.
  • If there’s a heavy rain and water seeps into your house from the yard through the foundation, that’s an NFIP claim.


Rule of thumb: as soon as water touches the ground outside and then comes into the house, it’s NFIP.

If you’re unsure, call us to find out.

For more information on the NFIP, click here.

Why are hurricane claims more complicated than others?

Hurricanes usually include windstorm and flooding damage. This complicates things because windstorm losses are paid by private insurers while flooding is covered by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you live near the coast or on a floodplain, your mortgagee usually requires you to have flood insurance. You can buy flood insurance even if you’re not on a floodplain, but because it’s not required, most people opt out. Turns out that many of the people affected by Hurricane Harvey flooding do not have flood insurance.
We can look back on Hurricane Katrina for hints to how these situations play out. After Katrina, private insurance company adjusters were telling homeowners that their damage was caused by flooding, not by wind, and therefore not covered. Most people didn’t even realize they were not covered for floods.
What will hurricane flooding victims do? The feds do offer some assistance, mostly in the form of low-interest loans. This assistance needs to be approved by congress on a case-by-case basis.
Should we all just get flood insurance? Maybe flood insurance isn’t such a bad idea, even if you’re not on a floodplain. With climate change, storms will create more water, like the billions of gallons Harvey dumped on Texas. I just called my agent to find out about it for my 1,200 square foot house, which is not on a floodplain. For $250,000 coverage, which is the maximum, the cost is about $499 per year – it all depends on your level of risk and mine is low. The cost to insure a house on a floodplain could cost $800 or more. There’s a 30-day grace period so don’t wait till they announce a hurricane to get it.
A public adjuster can help guide you after a claim. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s wind and what’s flood (the uncovered kind), so it’s good to have an expert on your side. And having just suffered the trauma of a hurricane, it’s pretty hard to deal with an insurance company, so let us help.
Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc.