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 Restaurant and Hotel Safety: Preventing and Managing Accidents and Incidents

The pressure to run a successful hospitality operation is greater than ever.  Between rising labor, food and rent costs and an intensely competitive marketplace, owners are finding it tougher to reach a profitable bottom line.  Now add to this the fact that the industry is a popular target in the legal arena with wage, discrimination, harassment and accident lawsuits, which can often add up to significant expense for the operator.  For owners to successfully manage this difficult environment, they must operate at a very high and professional level and become proactive in addressing the threats to their business.  In terms of preventing and managing accidents and incidents, this means developing and implementing a system of safeguards that minimize exposure. This article will focus on accidents and incidents due to slips and falls, cuts and burns and foreign objects found in food.  The following are keys to creating a system for restaurant and hotel safety:

Preventing Accidents and Incidents

  1. Owner’s Attitude: Nothing of consequence will be developed unless the owner takes prevention seriously and passes on their concern to the rest of the staff in an effective and organized way. Focused attention needs to be paid to smart procedures.  Ownership needs to be fully engaged and supportive.  A “culture of safety” needs to be developed where staff recognizes and acts upon the importance of methods to minimize accidents and incidents.
  2. Specific Written Guidelines: The culture of safety needs to be translated into a written set of specific guidelines that are understood and followed by staff. This can also include videos and online training tools.  Ownership may want to bring in an outside consultant to help set this up or do the research themselves to apply best practices.
  3. Training and Reinforcement: Choose designated leaders to carry out training and reinforcement. First aid and possibly CPR training should be provided.  Use staff meetings as reminders of various safety issues.  Update training materials when necessary.  Have the proper supplies organized in designated areas.

Guidelines for preventing slips and falls, cuts and burns and preventing foreign objects from getting in food should include:

Slips and Falls

  • Do a full risk assessment of the operation. For example, if there are steps in the dining room leading to a basement, make sure there is proper lighting, signage and safe flooring. Make sure chairs are secure and repaired. Assess all potential areas of concern and address them with clear action steps.
  • Make sure floor surfaces in the front and back of the house and all stairs have acceptable traction to prevent slippage and high-quality mats that are not curled up are used where necessary.
  • Have a specific cleaning and mopping procedure in place for the kitchen and dining room. When possible seek out sustainable cleaning products as they pose less toxic threat to those who come in contact with them.
  • Make sure staff has proper shoes.
  • Keep all handrails secure and make sure all wiring is set up to avoid trips and slips.
  • Repair all uneven floor surfaces.
  • Make sure all drains are cleared.
  • Have specific procedures for when it rains: i.e. The use of mats and umbrella stands by the front door.
  • Designate specific staff with assigned tasks related to prevention.

Cuts and Burns

  • Ensure proper knife skills are taught and practiced by all kitchen staff.
  • Have staff always use the proper tool for the job.
  • Have knives sharpened on a regular basis.
  • Provide appropriate safety gear when needed such as glasses and gloves.
  • Make sure staff is fully aware of potential burn hazards.
  • Understand the use and potential hazards of all chemicals used in the operation. Look to replace standard highly toxic cleaning chemicals with effective low or non-toxic alternatives.
  • Make sure all equipment operates properly and is secured in a safe place to use.
  • Have a complete and updated first aid kit.
  • Have proper lighting in all prep and service kitchen areas.
  • Make sure all electrical equipment is grounded and outlets are properly secured.

Foreign Objects Found in Food

  • Use only reputable suppliers for food product.
  • Have clear and thorough procedures for the cleaning of food product.
  • Have no foreign objects within the vicinity of food prep.

Managing Accidents and Incidents

  1. Have Staff React Quickly and Efficiently: Staff needs to understand instantly what they are to do and carry out their responsibility. They have to quickly assess priorities and act on them. For example, in a slip and fall, first priority needs to be towards the guest or employee who has fallen and to make sure they are as safe as possible. Staff needs to immediately understand what they can and can’t do from a safety and medical standpoint, such as how to move an injured person, if at all. If there is a burn or cut, trained staff should immediately get necessary supplies and apply them. Be prepared to follow all proper procedures in handling any burns, including chemical. Calling for emergency help always has to be considered and acted upon quickly. Owner or other management should immediately take charge and direct other staff.
  2. Secure the Area: There needs to be a system in place to efficiently secure the area of the accident so the injured party stays safe and no other complications occur. For example, the use of bright colored cones and wet floor signs need to be placed in specific strategic areas. It also is important that the rest of the customers or staff is kept away from the incident area.
  3. Accident and Incident Reports: A written report should be thorough and completed as soon as possible when memory is fresh and witnesses are available. If a statement from a witness cannot be objectively verified, don’t take it as fact and phrases such as “witness alleges” or “witness claims” should be the preferred language. It may be helpful to create diagrams and take photos to enhance the clarity of the report. If appropriate, reports should be provided to the insurance company immediately.
  4. Accident and Incident Feedback Loop: No matter how well the operation is prepared, accidents and incidents will occur. It is critical to always get better and learn from any incident that takes place and share the evaluation with the rest of the staff. Management should do a thorough analysis of the incident with feedback given to the staff. Lessons learned should be discussed with an emphasis on improvement.

The hospitality entrepreneur needs to wear a multitude of hats in carrying out their business.  The prevention and management of accidents and incidents has become an area that operators more than ever must seriously pay attention to as they go about running their establishments.  Having a clear set of guidelines and procedures that are ingrained in a “culture” of restaurant and hotel safety is a most valuable insurance policy to carry.

Alan SomeckAlan is a 30-year operator of high volume restaurants, in which he has managed all facets of the business. His experience and expertise have led him to develop a well-regarded expert witness practice. In his consulting practice, he has worked with many clients to create and establish their concepts. In addition, Alan has worked on assignments to develop food products for market such as protein bars, cookies, and brownies. He has also directed 7 EPA grants to train operators in Green sustainable practices. He has created an extensive network of industry professional who he works with on a regular basis. Throughout his career, Alan has supported the success of entrepreneurs through executive coaching and training. For the past 10 years, Alan also has taught at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC and at NYIT where he has taught all aspects of the restaurant business. His students have opened fast casual restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and fine dining operations.

How Recent Florida Worker Compensation Changes Will Impact Your Operations

Making hotel insurance simple, and saving you money in the process.

You may be aware of this recent judgment, maybe not. Either way, you definitely should be, because it has ramifications for every hotelier (and any other business owner) across the country. Even though Florida is often quite idiosyncratic in its lawmaking, this recent change has big legs, and there’s no doubt that some iteration of it will roll out nationwide.

First – credit where credit is due – I’d like to point out an article on the matter so you can educate yourself on what has transpired. Read it here: http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/southeast/2016/06/09/271475.htm

The short story is that benefits to injured workers will be compensable going back in time for as long as five years. Seeing as how this was mandated by the Florida Supreme Court, your own state will likely react sometime soon. As a hospitality employer, you won’t appreciate the end result. Claims that you had closed with your insurance carrier can now be reopened, leaving you vulnerable. Yes, these will be absorbed by the prior insurance company, but they will eventually cost you more money!

If you have a claim for an injured worker from three years ago that was settled, the employee was paid for lost time and you thought it was done and over. But now they can re-open the claim and ask for more back wages.

How does that work? Claims paid under workers’ compensation trail with you over time. In the insurance industry, we call this an experience modifier – it is a multiplier placed on your overall premium due. Under 1.00 is good, 1.00 is average and above 1.00 is not good. The formula is complex but your insurance advisor should be promulgating this factor every year to make sure it is accurate.

As a senior manager, you should know what your experience modifier is – yes, if asked, you should be able to say, “We have a 0.82 or a 1.71.” Whatever it is, you should know it and be able to explain it!

If your premium is, for instance, $100 based on payroll by class code, eventually this number is multiplied by the experience modifier. If you are under 1.00, you pay less; if you are over, you pay more. But with this new law, we now have to go back and retroactively adjust our numbers based on what we think will be paid out. If you operate within the Sunshine State, I can conclusively say that your premium is going to increase.

The entities that do this promulgation (NCCI and other state rating entities) calculate the final number from data received by the insurance companies without questioning the accuracy. It happens six months prior to the new policy being issued and it goes back many years. So if a claim that was closed is now reopened with more expected to be paid, the calculation changes the total incurred in the equation.

As an example, if a worker was paid $10,000 to handle medical expenses, that is a done deal. The indemnity portion is the future payments of lost wages to the employee injured on the job site. This number is very hard to quantify, though. Does the employee want to return to work or stay home? Will they do a lesser job to maintain the dignity of working while injured? Do you offer a return to work policy? Do you have a safety program or a drug-free workplace that the injured employee possibly violated? The motivation of the employer and the employee to get back to work is mixed with the severity of the injury.

To conclude, every case is different, and so are the statutes for each state. While you are likely too busy to peruse every insurance-related headline that flies through your daily newsfeed, just know that what has just happened in Florida will likely be adopted by other states. As hotels are sizeable labor employers, I wouldn’t say this is cause for alarm, but definitely something to have a conversation with your insurance agent at some point soon to assess how well you are covered.

(Article by Tom Cleary, published in Hotel Interactive on August 23, 2016)


About the Authors 

tom_cleary

Tom Cleary is an Equity Partner with the Sihle Insurance Group in Clearwater Florida and a member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Based in Florida for his entire career, Tom has expertise in commercial insurance with a focus on hospitality and real estate as well as flood and wind exposures. Products offered include property, liability, automobile, crime, umbrella and workers’ compensation throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Tom also serves as a regional director for The Cornell Society, has been a board member and longtime member of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and serves in an advisory capacity to the Resort Hotel Association.

 

Control the Process to Get the Best Deal on Hotel Insurance

A common question for hotel and restaurant operators is: How do I get insurance that effectively covers my operation for the lowest price available? While insurance is a complex topic with many intricate layers, the answer to this specific question is fairly simple – control the process.

When you ask for a certain grade of steak or a set of linens with a defined thread count or a specific piece of equipment, you can compare ‘apples to apples’ and make a decision based on price, delivery, installation and so on. But insurance does not work this way.

Why not? Well, the ‘playing field’ is hardly level. Typically, you do not have the knowledge that your ‘vendor’ is bringing to the table. Do you know how to read a ‘quote’ when the various ISO forms are listed as part of the policy? Do you even know what an ISO form is? Be honest with yourself; understanding insurance is not for the faint of heart.

You’ll often start the process by asking three insurance agents or brokers to give you a quote (I use agent / broker interchangeably because, for all intents and purposes, they are the same for your purposes). What do you give the agent to get you this quote? Is it a copy of the current policy or the last ‘proposal’ that you purchased? Most agents will jump at the chance to work with this limited information and run to the insurance marketplace with your account to see what is available.

And why would they jump at this opportunity? As insane as it sounds, any agent with an application can submit your account for a quote – whether you sanctioned it or not, whether the details are correct or not and whether the submission is complete or not. Once the insurance company receives the submission from an agent, that insurance company is precluded from offering a proposal to any other agent.

Yes, you read that correct. This is called ‘blocking the market’ and it makes sure the agent submitting your account ‘locks up’ the insurance companies with his or her submission. It doesn’t matter if the submission is accurate or complete; you are simply tied to that agent for the bidding process. Some agents have no problem rushing to the marketplace to ‘block’ the insurance companies. This isn’t necessarily good for you, but incentivizes the agent.

Your main recourse to prevent any trauma is to control the process.

Create detailed bid specifications that are in underwriting terms – insurance speak – and are applicable to any insurance company. This means a ‘statement of values’ reflecting all of the data needed to understand the buildings to be insured, the revenue streams to be insured and the employees to be insured. Many insurance companies require not only the standard ‘Acord forms’ but also detailed supplemental applications. You can and should have a very detailed supplemental application already completed that answers every question an underwriter can think to ask before they ask it.

To help with your understanding and the development of these bid specifications, there are three legs to the stool of insurance that you should know. First, what is the exposure? That is answered by the generic Acord forms and the supplemental that answers every question an underwriter can ask. Second, what are you paying for the insurance now, in details by line of coverage? Not sharing the current cost is detrimental to the effort. What you are paying now is combined with the third leg, which pertains to what has been paid out on your behalf in terms of claims?

If you can explain how your account can be profitable to the insurance underwriters, you can get the best deal because you can show the underwriter how much the insurance company will be able to charge, the exposure they are insuring, and the ‘payout’ from prior insurance companies for the same risk.

Remove one leg from the stool and it wobbles. Too many buyers think they are able to get a better deal by not sharing all three legs of critical information. They won’t share the current premiums; they have no idea of the true exposure; or they cannot provide hard copy results of the losses paid out on the account (called ‘loss runs’). In this sense, controlling the process means arming yourself with as much information as is possible.

Lastly, think about broker selection as a concept. Create an RFP for your insurance needs. Ask agents to review your three legs and provide the approach they will take to soliciting your account to the insurance marketplace. Interview as many as you wish, just make sure you clarify what you want in the RFP. Only then should you pick the best one based upon your internal criteria, and let that particular agent run the marketplace.

When I am in control of an account, I have the luxury of bidding to the insurance world, knowing that I control who gets the final order based on your criteria and my relationships. The analogy is the hiring of a real estate agent to sell your home. They control the process and get you the price you desire based on what you have to sell and what you want. Make the process simple so that you can control it and so you can get the best deal possible.

(Article by Tom Cleary, originally published in eHotelier on June 15, 2016)


About the Author

tom_cleary

Tom Cleary is an Equity Partner with the Sihle Insurance Group in Clearwater Florida and a member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Based in Florida for his entire career, Tom has expertise in commercial insurance with a focus on hospitality and real estate as well as flood and wind exposures. Products offered include property, liability, automobile, crime, umbrella and workers’ compensation throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Tom also serves as a regional director for The Cornell Society, has been a board member and longtime member of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and serves in an advisory capacity to the Resort Hotel Association.

Bundling a Portfolio to Reduce Onerous Insurance Requirements

Hospitality operators borrow money from lenders in various manners. Whether you borrow from a local community bank or complete a commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) transaction on Wall Street, in the loan documents you will be required to maintain a certain level of insurance. And with this comes stipulations that may be a tad burdensome for you to obey.

Franchisors also demand a certain level of protection arising from insurance issues created by a franchisee. And prudent hotel operators also desire a level of comfort in knowing they are adequately covered.

You must understand the specific requirements of the insurance you are forced to obtain for any such entity. As a business owner or operator, you may have one level of comfort when buying a certain type of insurance, but the lender or the franchisor may have a different view of the coverage. If you agree to the terms of the lender or the franchisor, you must procure the exact insurance per the agreement you signed.

In other words, there are quite a few stakeholders who will all have specific demands for a loan or insurance agreement. It’s now your job to understand these requirements to know how they can be met or if you should consider other options.

Typically, this relates to property insurance. How many assets do you control under your policy? Will the third parties demanding proof of coverage allow you to buy wisely? Or, will they insist you conform to the documents created by another third-party risk management consulting firm?

Our experience working in the hospitality industry has shown some of the following issues:

  • Requirements can be overbearing or impossible to obtain depending on the current state of the insurance marketplace
  • Coverage terms and conditions required by these entities can be very expensive
  • Over time, any document requiring insurance coverage can become outdated by the marketplace for insurance

We have done transactions under CMBS guidelines, which are rather stringent and in some cases non-negotiable. As the borrower, you have to weigh the costs and benefits of the current affordable or favorable lending arrangement to what is required for compliance down the road.

When the insurance deal is set up, we might have a portfolio insured for a loss limit of $100 million. This could cover assets in multiple locations worth well more than the stated amount on the policy, but from a practical point of view, it makes sense.

If you have 10 hotels in 10 different cities, why insure to the full replacement cost for each and every single asset? Insurers charge premiums based on the overall value, but we also know what the maximum payout will be under the policy. So if you have $250 million of value but only $100 million at risk, there is a composite rate charged, and it is less than the full charge for $250 million. Alas, though, you only get $100 million in coverage.

CMBS specs do not like this. The folks reviewing the insurance for them also do not like this. It takes negotiating, cajoling and straight-up salesmanship to make them understand that it is a prudent decision to buy the $100 million for the portfolio rather than abide by the charge for the full replacement cost.

You will have to back this up with evidence that the losses for the one asset out of ten that they loaned money on are adequately covered. Maybe it is more, but likely you have multiple lenders on the portfolio and they only care about the assets they loaned on. This is done in the industry using various predictive models with a long history and accuracy. Thus far, they work.

Do you think, though, that every major hotel company is buying individual policies and limits for each asset? They just don’t, and neither should you.

Covering the portfolio as a whole will save you money. And thus, one excellent solution for dealing with onerous insurance requirements or disparate stakeholder demands is to bundle.

To reiterate through an example, a former client of ours has $250 million of assets throughout the state of Florida. He had a single policy for each asset. By combining the assets into one policy and running the numbers, we reduced the cost by one half. We had claims to be sure, but they were handled within the newly purchased limits without an issue. Nevertheless, it saved seven digits of premium annually!

So the takeaway is this. Have your insurance professional read the documents you are going through before you execute them. A real professional will bring value to the table above and beyond what the attorneys and lenders can advise because this is what we do. Bundling is but one example of how clever insurance agents will benefit your property’s bottom line.

(Article by Tom Cleary, published in eHotelier on August 5, 2016)


About the Author

tom_cleary

Tom Cleary is an Equity Partner with the Sihle Insurance Group in Clearwater Florida and a member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Based in Florida for his entire career, Tom has expertise in commercial insurance with a focus on hospitality and real estate as well as flood and wind exposures. Products offered include property, liability, automobile, crime, umbrella and workers’ compensation throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Tom also serves as a regional director for The Cornell Society, has been a board member and longtime member of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and serves in an advisory capacity to the Resort Hotel Association.

Upsurge in Global Terrorism Is a Red Flag for Hospitality Industry

It is readily apparent that terrorist and active shooter events around the world have experienced s dramatic increase of late. Up until recently, 9/11 was looked upon as a one-time event and billions were subsequently spent to combat terrorism in the US. But the rise of ISIS, lone wolves and active shooters has not been deterred. In fact, it has gotten worse.

terrorism-red-flag_300_240_c1

The highly publicized attacks in Paris are another example, similar to 9/11, of what happens when a major terrorist event is widely covered by news media outlets. Even after the Boston Marathon bombing, the consequences and costs were staggering. And even more recently are the tragic events in Jakarta and Burkina Faso to consider.

Aside from the ultimate cost – the loss of human life – the economic fallout has become a major concern. Complete shutdowns of communities on alert, loss of work days, shopping trips, shut down of public transportation, massive hotel and flight cancellations are what the terrorists want. Terrorists hope to instill fear and change our way of life, and to some degree they have already succeeded.

Hospitality in particular must take extra steps to be better prepared. This requires an investment in time and money. ‘Soft Targets’ is the phrase used to denote any hotel or place where people gather, and all are vulnerable. The Taj Hotel attack in Mumbai is an example of the ease in which terrorists can seize a luxury hotel. From the current list of malls, hotels, casinos and resorts, we should now add movie theaters, stadiums, rented halls and conventions.

In Israel, there has been a direct correlation between periods where highly publicized terrorism attacks have happened and decreases in tourism. The Israeli attitude towards terrorism is that it is a condition that has to be lived with and cannot be completely wiped out. The level of security in Israel has created somewhat of a ‘security culture’. The Israeli public understands what terrorism is and society thrives amidst daily threats. The public is a partner with local authorities and, as the eyes and ears on the ground, this alliance has proven quite successful.

In the US and Europe, the public is still not completely comfortable with visible security measures such as gun-toting guards or having to deal with the inconveniences that accompany increased security such as car searches, guards at public entranceways and passing through metal detectors. The Israeli public has learned that these inconveniences are implemented in order to protect them, and rarely are there complaints about making these minor sacrifices. In addition, tourists visiting Israel quickly learn that these measures are a way of life.

Israeli hotels are given special attention and special government regulations have been instituted. Compliance is mandatory and has resulted in a safer environment for the thriving tourism industry. Hotels are required to have armed guards at entranceways while special building materials must be used such as shatter-proof or bomb-proof glass. Access points require approval. Each hotel must have a security official who is trained to deal with terrorist events in addition to other duties such as theft.

So, how are other nations’ hospitality industries going to adapt to these new conditions? How will operators upgrade security plans to be better prepared? Doing little can be extremely costly. Concern about the financial investment or finding the time to train staff can prove to be a mistake in the long run.

It may behoove management to consider using professional security consultants to develop emergency contingency plans. Having a well-organized emergency contingency plan can improve preparedness, response and recovery including:

  • Security and threat assessments or upgrades of existing assessments
  • Evaluation of physical security measures, surveillance, alarm and communication systems
  • Public safety response protocols, evacuation and lock down plans and drills
  • Crisis communications/public relations and media/spokesperson training to minimize negative public reaction to increased security and the aftermath of an actual incident

(Article by Jim Braver, originally published in eHotelier on January 22, 2016)

About the Author 

braverJames Braver is the US Director for The TIX Group, a consultancy of leading Israeli security experts providing security and strategic services to owners and operators in the hospitality industry. Jim is responsible for coordinating all TIX activities in the U.S. Jim was responsible for facilitating and organizing the TIX Group’s School Security Program in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.

Public Adjusters and Coverage Attorneys for Hotel Property Insurance

Making hotel insurance simple, and saving you money in the process.

As a hospitality business owner or operator, you spend lots of money to buy the insurance needed to protect your assets and to satisfy all the requirements of stakeholders. Everyone has something to say – lenders, investors, third-party management companies, private equity firms and so on. All parties have to cover their interests.

Buying insurance is already a complicated process even before you factor in all these divergent stakeholder demands. Nevertheless, it is your fiduciary responsibility as the manager who lives and breathes your hotel on a daily basis to protect all the underlying assets. So you go out to procure the insurance you think will accomplish the objectives that meet the needs of the various parties. Yet oftentimes satisfying everyone just isn’t within your particular skill set, nor do you even have the time for it.

How can you maximize the dollars returned to you when the time comes to cash in on the policy? Unlike life insurance, which is relatively simple – that is, you die and someone gets a check – for property and liability insurance, it is difficult to ascertain the true value of what you bought.

Two professionals can help in these cases – a designated adjuster and a coverage attorney – and you would be wise to understand what they do in order to get the best deal on your insurance policy.

A designated adjuster is just that – an adjuster appointed to your portfolio in advance of a claim. Moreover, this firm is not made up of employees or representatives of the insurance company paying the claim. Rather, they are independent and receive remuneration from the insurance company on a predetermined basis. This type of arrangement is typically reserved for larger accounts, but there are programs that have designated adjusters for smaller accounts.

The advantage for your hotel is that the designated adjuster you would likely recruit will specialize in the hospitality industry and know the specific policy language before any claim is made. They have been selected by the insurance company or program administrator in advance of the policy inception and they know what is covered and what is not. In some cases, they will visit your property before a claim in order to understand all the intricacies of your operations.

When a claim happens, they are a step ahead.

You may change insurance companies over the years, based on market conditions, but using the same adjuster makes the claims process more seamless. This is easily done if they are qualified, licensed and have a good reputation.

To confuse you even further, this is not the same as a public adjuster. A public adjuster is authorized to present claims to insurance companies on your behalf, but the insurance company does not compensate the public adjuster on a predetermined basis – that is, an hourly or daily rate. Instead, a public adjuster is compensated as a percentage of the final claim. As a result, many large or complex claims become one-sided, subject to the interpretation of the insurers and their representatives.

The advice we give our clients is to know in advance the party representing your firm when the claim occurs, not waiting to see who is assigned on behalf of the insurance company. Even though insurance discussions may not regularly occur in a senior planning meeting, it is nonetheless important that all top executives keep this person’s contact details handy.

The second protective solution to have in your arsenal is the retention of a coverage attorney to assist you in the preparation, presentation and eventual litigation of a complex claim. And the ways that they will help your hotel are best illustrated through an example.

Let’s say you have a large loss, and early on you are faced with potential disputes over the interpretation of coverage wording, loss calculations, periods of indemnity and so on. Your insurer issues a reservation of rights, or otherwise informs you of a position inconsistent with your understanding of the coverages that you purchased. Although you may have in-house counsel and outside counsel relationships, it is unlikely that either specializes in property insurance law. Your insurance broker may have a claims staff, but most are ill-equipped to manage complex claims and few can practice law.

Prior to such a claim occurring, your firm should have established a relationship with a leading coverage attorney. This is outside the purview of your insurance purchase and should be done after you select a broker and insurance company. Good brokers will have them in their rolodex, while an insurance company will likely never refer you to one.

A coverage attorney reviews your insurance form prior to a loss and provides advice on areas where coverage wording could be improved. At the time of a loss, you then consult with your attorney to anticipate problematic issues in the adjusting process.

In many ways, insurance is legalized gambling, especially when you are dealing with large and complex claims such as those pertaining to hospitality and large hotel or resort properties with lots of moving parts. Your safest bet is to stop complaining or pushing the topic aside and learn to play the game because the house does not always win!

(Article by Tom Cleary, published in eHotelier on July 19, 2016)


About the Author

 

tom_cleary

Tom Cleary is an Equity Partner with the Sihle Insurance Group in Clearwater Florida and a member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Based in Florida for his entire career, Tom has expertise in commercial insurance with a focus on hospitality and real estate as well as flood and wind exposures. Products offered include property, liability, automobile, crime, umbrella and workers’ compensation throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Tom also serves as a regional director for The Cornell Society, has been a board member and longtime member of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and serves in an advisory capacity to the Resort Hotel Association.

Tunisian Terrorism Attacks a Red Flag for Hospitality

General and Background

The recent terrorist attacks at Sousse Beach and the Bardo National Museum in Tunis in Tunisia, leaving 59 dead (mostly Europeans) are grim reminders that Hospitality/Tourism are no longer immune from the risk of terrorism.

In fact, tourism is an ideal target because of the open, free environments that tourists expect. Hotel groups are faced with the dilemma of providing low-profile security measures with comfortable, risk-free settings.

Local government, hotel groups and related industries must find ways to protect their investments and clientele. Immediate action is necessary to deal with the current situation. Israeli experience, under the leadership of former Israel National Police Commissioner, Assaf Heffetz, can help support industry efforts to adapt to these conditions with proven knowledge and expertise.

The Challenges

There are two major security challenges facing the industry:

1. Improving the security environment for hotels and resorts to continue to flourish amidst potential threats.

2. Implementation of a major worldwide PR campaign that promotes a positive image, assuring potential tourists that management has taken the appropriate measures for tourism to thrive in a safer, more secure environment.

The TIX Group:

Our team of Israeli experts, along with our American partners, offers decades of knowledge and expertise in various disciplines relating to security preparedness. Commissioner Heffetz has held the responsibility of protecting the public and private sectors in Israel and consults worldwide. It is this combined experience that can help provide businesses and government agencies with increased risk prevention approaches.

We are available to explore consulting and training options that can help the tourism industry:
• Emergency contingency planning (ECP).
• Public and personnel training in awareness and intelligence concepts.
• Behavior detection techniques.
• Development of an all-hazard security policy and procedural manual.
• Crisis communications/public relations and media/spokesperson training
• Security assessments or upgrades of existing assessments.

As one example of the TIX Group’s expertise, the TIX ECP is a concept that has been developed to help operators and owners upgrade security while keeping within budgetary constraints. It takes into account the need to maintain business continuity while upgrading security to levels required during crisis situations.

Recent acts of terrorism by Al Shabaab, ISIS and AQ have once again proven wrong those who have not had the foresight to take necessary security measures. While tourists generally are not comfortable with highly visible security measures and practices, in times of crisis, it is highly desirable.

The TIX Group believes that if management ignores investing in adequate security, while economically attractive, it poses serious financial risks for the hospitality, shopping center (and malls), and other travel-related industries. “The Israeli Experience (TIX) in Homeland Security” group consists of leaders experienced in Israel’s fight against terrorism. In the past several years, we have presented seminars on Israel’s experience in fighting terror to various organizations in the US including ICMA (International City/County Managers Association), NEMA (National Emergency Managers Association), MWCOG (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments), and others.

TIX is a member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants, the world’s most experienced network of independent hospitality consultants. TIX also is California POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) accredited in Active Shooter training.

To learn more about TIX services, visit their website www.thetixgroup.com


About the Author

braver

James Braver is the US Director for The TIX Group, a consultancy of leading Israeli security experts providing security and strategic services to owners and operators in the hospitality industry. Jim is responsible for coordinating all TIX activities in the U.S. Jim was responsible for facilitating and organizing the TIX Group’s School Security Program in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.

Israel’s Hospitality Industry And Today’s Growing Terrorism Threat by Dov Shiloah & James C. Braver

Over the past several years, it has become obvious that terrorism has become a permanent and constant threat. Governments, businesses, institutions, schools and society in general now realize that life as it used to be is no longer with us: Security is not just an issue relating to crime. Counterterrorism is a word that has become integrated in our vocabulary.

Soft targets, i.e., targets that are low profile but high value for terrorists, have been on the radar as ideal targets in recent years. Easy to gain access to, soft targets are everywhere and the hospitality industry has become increasingly at risk. Certainly, dozens of hotels around the world have been hit over the past several years and therefore, the hospitality industry must do more to protect its guests and employees. Airlines are now very secure and shipping companies have upgraded security, yet the hospitality industry is extremely vulnerable and more must be done.

In Israel, living with the threat of terrorism is a way of life. A kind of security-based culture has evolved in that country and a combination of measures based on experience as well as public and institutional awareness has increased the capacity and capability to face threats, and deal with attempts.

Despite the turmoil in the Arab world driven by the momentum of the Arab Spring, Israel’s tourism industry is on the increase. Over the past two years, despite the chaos in neighboring Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, the threats of Iran, the hostility from Gaza and the West Bank, tourists are flowing into Israel. Recently in an article in “Israel Today”, a piece about gay travelers to Israel showed that Gacities.com, the gay destination travel website, took a poll among its readers and found that Tel Aviv was voted the number one global travel destination with New York following in second place.

After the tragic hotel attack in 2002 in the coastal city of Netanya where a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Park Hotel during a community Passover Seder where 40 people died and 140 were wounded, the Israeli government conducted extensive research into how to improve security. On one hand, extensive work has been done on the preventive level in the form of security plans, and public and staff awareness programs integrated with advanced technological means. On the other hand, knowing that there can never be a foolproof system, new approaches have been developed with respect to the physical structures of buildings, particularly hotels.

Special measures have now been implemented to improve hotels to withstand attacks and reduce casualties. Special blast proof materials, non-collapsible ceilings, blast proof glazing and other products are available. Increased physical security measures, upgraded training programs and improved planning have become the new standard.

Israeli hoteliers must meet certain certification standards for approval. These standards and measures have been established through cooperation between security organizations, local government agencies and certified professionals authorized to oversee the implementation of security. These measures relate to issues such as access control (including guest entrances, staff entrances and service entrances, garage and parking facilities), luggage screening, camera positioning, control room requirements, staff screening, staff security training, and security drills. For developers, security planning is a line item and part of the architectural and design planning in order to increase efficiency and be cost effective.

Security Plan

Regional and local risk assessments are important in determining what needs to be done and how much will be spent: The more volatile the region, the higher the security levels. In addition, it is very important, as is done in Israel, that cooperation, intelligence sharing and response, etc., between hotel operators and local authorities be well coordinated and maintained on a regular basis. Should an emergency occur, good planning and mutual cooperation can provide unlimited benefits in dealing with threats.

Security design needs to be costed into the project at the conceptual planning stage. It is essential that developers and architects work with experienced security engineers and consultants for proper assessments and plans. Without proper investment in integrating security measures in the planning, the more at risk a facility could be.

Basic Design Concepts

In general terms, there are three concentric “security circles” which combine physical design with technology and manpower.

Circle 1: Perimeter and access: Creating more distance from public roads is essential (keeping the traffic moving). Entrances can be manned by guard booths, electronic gates and other systems. CCTV is very important in guarding the perimeter. Cooperation with neighbors (if in a heavily developed area) can be improved by sharing CCTV’s from different views of each property and sharing intelligence. In Israel, vehicles and personal items are searched by security personnel.

Circle 2: Areas from Building to Perimeter: these areas are where access is controlled, including vehicles. The stand-off area (space from car to building) is vitally important as the further a vehicle is allowed to come toward a structure, typically the more damage occurs from car bombs. Various barriers and obstacles can be created to reduce potential for ramming (speed bumps, winding driveways, bollards, Jersey barriers, landscaping, etc.). This area also requires extensive use of CCTV.

Circle 3: Building Structure: Balancing aesthetic quality with effective security is an art. As mentioned, there are numerous design elements such as access points, floor plans, luggage and mail rooms (blast proof), minimization of debris from blasts, CCTV coverage, barriers and dividers, window glazing, reducing spaces where items can be hidden, blast and ballistic proof materials, etc.

The more ornamentation and heavy objects (metal, concrete, etc.), the higher the potential for causalities from fragmentation of debris from a blast. Many casualties can result from shrapnel, shards of glass, etc. Using fewer objects and lighter materials can be less lethal.

Human Intelligence

Human intelligence is probably the most vital measure in dealing with terrorism threats. It requires alert employees with good training and experience. To stop an attack in the planning stages is the key to success. Without this, physical planning cannot fully prevent potential damage. Staff awareness is essential.

The hotel industry must invest in developing the best staffs available in its attempts to protect its hotels. U.S. or multi-national hotel companies might not want to exhibit the levels of security measures used in high threat regions such as in Israel or Asia, such as guard searches at access points or even searching car trunks. However, in the event of an attack to the industry anywhere, the entire industry collectively suffers. In such events, proper alert levels are welcomed and expected by the traveling public.

Hotel staffs should be adequately trained. Reliance upon technology and consultants are only two component of a good line of defense. The more awareness is instilled in a hotel’s staff, the better the hotel’s overall security — including reduction of criminal activity.

The threat of terrorism has not gone away and the hospitality industry must be better prepared, especially in higher risk regions. The industry as a whole is affected negatively when sensationalized media attention is given to an attack anywhere in the world. Owners and operators must invest more time and money to upgrade security using professional consultants and security design engineers. Airlines are now much less threatened but hotels are certainly at risk due to their ease of access and welcoming environments as natural gathering points for large crowds.


About the Author 

braverJames Braver is the US Director for The TIX Group, a consultancy of leading Israeli security experts providing security and strategic services to owners and operators in the hospitality industry. Jim is responsible for coordinating all TIX activities in the U.S. Jim was responsible for facilitating and organizing the TIX Group’s School Security Program in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.

Caring For Guests In Times Of Growing Terrorism and Active Shooter Threats

The TIX Group is composed of former high-level officials from Israel’s security community. The TIX mission is to share Israeli experience in dealing with terrorism and other security threats wherever they might occur. The group’s leader, Assaf Heffetz, is the former Commissioner of the Israel National Police. Assaf and other TIX professionals have hands-on experience in developing and implementing many of the policies and measures successfully used today in Israel. TIX is available to support business communities including the hospitality and travel industries with consulting services, seminars and training.

In recent years, it has become obvious that public places are no longer immune from violent incidents: the recent Jewish Community Center in Kansas shooting; the Boston Marathon; Sandy Hook School and schools across the country; the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater; Malls in New Jersey, Oregon, Maryland; and more. Public events, recreational travel, and tourism industries are potentially at risk since they are soft targets with high concentrations of vulnerable people. Soft targets already hit hard such as schools, movie theaters, and airlines have instituted dramatic increases in security protocols.

Yet is a hotel any different from a school? Couldn’t an active shooter or terrorist create more damage in a major casino, resort or multi-use complex that attracts annually thousands of visitors and guests? Wouldn’t a terrorist prefer to target a hotel rather than having to deal with stringent security measures in the airlines industry?

It is the legal duty of hoteliers to serve all those who are in fit condition and able to pay as guests. The dilemma is that guests themselves could be potential threats. What is to prevent a terrorist from easily bringing a 50 lb. suitcase full of weapons or explosives to a hotel room or in a vehicle in the underground parking garage? What about an active shooter attacking a highly crowded convention or expo? As horrible as this sounds, such attacks are within the realm of possibility.

The hard-hit Taj Hotel in Mumbai and other targeted hotels in foreign high-risk countries, as serious as they were, do not seem to be causing any alarm in the U.S.

Not only would an attacked hotel suffer following an attack, but also the entire industry would be affected due to the high degree of media attention received. The sensationalizing of a traumatic incident has shown in the past that the industry as a whole is collectively affected. Room cancellations, postponing conventions, reluctance to travel and other consequences can be dramatic across the industry.

In the hospitality industry, hotel companies have a duty to provide reasonable care for the safety and security of guests and must welcome all who wish to ‘pay to stay’. The relationship between guest and hotel is defined in common and statutory law, in which an innkeeper’s responsibility to the guest is defined as a Duty of Reasonable Care.

In this case, if there is an incident of a criminal or violent nature and it can be proven that it was a ‘foreseeable event’ then the hotel has a duty to have in place measures and proper security to prevent harm to guests.

Foreseeability is a tricky issue. Management should have the ability to foresee events based on previous events that have occurred. A thorough and properly researched risk assessment is needed to help provide the right security plan that is a key defense for any future court cases.

Hotels can be found liable if insufficient measures were not in place before the incident occurs. A ‘first strike’ event is easier to defend in court if it never happened before at the site. However, if no attempts to make any changes or deal with such threats were made to help prevent such an incident from recurring, then management would be more at risk of a court decision against them.

As public places become more and more vulnerable as incidents rise, it would be good sense to review assessments and upgrade security plans.

As ‘Soft Targets’ hotels and those facilities related to travel and tourism, e.g., restaurants, casinos, spas, must do more to limit threats and their fallout. Soft Targets are ‘high value, low profile’ sites which have been targeted in the recent past, such as malls, schools, campuses, hotels, tourism centers and the like. A new heightened level of awareness and measures to properly deal with this problem must be more accepted by hotel and travel owners and operators.

The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude among operators is driven by the need to enhance positive public image that they are providing a pleasant, comfortable and safe environment. Guests basically expect this ‘reasonable care’ as part of what they are getting for their money. But operators put too much emphasis on the security director or even local police for adequate protection. In times when things are running smoothly, it seems that not much needs to be addressed besides basic security procedures.

However, the threats faced today are not the same as the threats faced by the hotel and travel industries in the 1980’s or 90’s or even just after 9-11. With almost monthly active shooter events now occurring across the country, it appears that terrorism is only part of the problem. After 9-11 there was an ‘it won’t happen again or to us’ attitude. What could be the odds of another 9-11?

The active shooter phenomenon seems to be a growing threat. A disgruntled employee, customer, outsider, etc., proves the unpredictability of such an event and therefore such possibilities should be considered, in most cases, as a ‘foreseeable’ event.

In Israel, due to the nature of the high degree of risk facing travel and tourism there, the Hospitality industry is regulated and requires security measure compliance. Although the public expects high levels of security at the national level, hotel guests visiting that country will experience certain practices and measures that are visibly obvious yet do not impose any unnecessary hardships on the guests.

Permitting is required for visiting certain sections of the country, which require different degrees of compliance. Security guards are required at every hotel entrance. Even malls in Israel require guards and metal detectors at every entrance.

Hotel design, materials and other security-related regulations are tightly enforced. Although many operators complain about excessive costs (bomb-proof materials for example), the industry has adapted to this process and continues to grow and thrive.

In addition, other measures and programs are in place at a national level such as Public Awareness programs. This principle of awareness provides the most important ground source of intelligence and can be applied to hotels. Employees are properly trained and every hotel has a security director who is usually a former member of the military or law enforcement. Even the public at large is an active ‘partner’ in helping to be the eyes and ears on the street and be on the alert for suspicious individuals and packages.

Travel/tourism and hotel industries must take into account two major concepts to protect themselves from the damaging consequences of random violent events:  They must acknowledge that the current reluctance to deal with the situation must be overcome, and that a meaningful discussion about the issue must be initiated.

In the US after 9-11, the airline industry and others suffered immediate losses due to bans on travel, cancellations, etc., even if financial markets suffered only temporarily. In Boston after the Marathon Bombing, the entire Greater Boston area was closed down for almost a week. Hotels and tourism-related businesses experienced huge downturns in business.

It is a well-know fact that after a major terrorist incident, travel to the attacked country tends to take a downturn. However, Israeli security is so well established that Israel is able to absorb these events and maintain business continuity with minimal losses. In fact, most would not realize that Tel Aviv, even with its lose proximity to Gaza, the West Bank and the Lebanon border, is considered the most popular gay-friendly tourist destination as indicated by a survey on the Gacities.com website. New York came in second.

Upgrading of current security plans must be implemented. Emergency Contingency Plans that include improving security training and adapting to the local and regional environment — which would fall under the category of ‘Foreseeable’ — are essential to avoid incidents themselves as well as future possibilities of costly lawsuits.

Emergency Contingency Plans:

For hotels and related facilities, security plans should be upgraded to meet today’s threats. An Emergency Contingency Plan can help limit and mitigate the effects of a successful terrorist attack as well as help protect a facility. Although there is no such thing as a fool-proof security plan, an ECP can help management in prevention and preparedness, as well as response.

An Emergency Contingency program can help an operator set in motion well-established, planned steps to immediately go into effect following an attack on the industry. The public will, in light of public hysteria, expect increased security compared with prior to the incident, when too much security can deter guests. Management must be ready to act, to assure and demonstrate to its clientele that they are in control of the situation and not reacting due to lack of planning.

In light of the growing security concerns of most public places, the hospitality and travel-related industries are prime soft targets for active shooters and terrorists. Awareness is the first most important issue that needs to be addressed. Now is the time to increase the level of expertise and knowledge required for improved security planning.


About the Author 

braverJames Braver is the US Director for The TIX Group, a consultancy of leading Israeli security experts providing security and strategic services to owners and operators in the hospitality industry. Jim is responsible for coordinating all TIX activities in the U.S. Jim was responsible for facilitating and organizing the TIX Group’s School Security Program in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.