Hoteliers purchase insurance to protect their business from various forms of damage and litigation. Here are the experts’ best tips to get the most out of your insurance coverage and provider.

1. Keep Up on Training And Culture

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has updated cleaning and safety guidelines that all hotel employees should follow, said Matt Zender, senior VP and workers’ compensation product manager for AmTrust Financial. Additionally, hotel operators should host training sessions on safety procedures regularly.

2. Keep Lines of Communication Open

Staff should have the opportunity to voice their concerns over any tasks or procedures that make them feel unsafe, such as a confrontation with a violent guest.

3. Have Walk-and-Talk Discussions

Take time to think about what exposures worry you and ask how insurance can handle those issues. Ask what exposures would bother the broker to learn if you are missing any areas of risk, said Kimberly Gore, national practice leader of Hub International’s hospitality specialty practice.

4. Maintain the Premises

Hotel operators must address any maintenance tasks thoroughly and keep up with these tasks. For example, a soggy carpet or wet floors from a ceiling leak can lead to a slip-and-fall incident.

5. Stay Ahead of Potential Claims

Work with your broker to have a clear documentation plan for any incidents that happen at your locations. Documentation and details are key if the incident moves to a claim. Incidents and claims should be reviewed quarterly with your broker. 

6. Micromanage Each Department

Each area of the hotel has unique risks. The dangers facing housekeeping and front-desk staff differ from those facing the team managing the conference and event center. Manage each team and the various hazards they face accordingly. 

7. Give Housekeeping Staff Frequent Breaks

Repetitive motions can lead to carpal tunnel and other musculoskeletal injuries. Staff should take regular breaks to give their bodies the necessary rest. 

8. Have an Emergency Action Plan

Ensure employees know their responsibilities, have a list of contacts/vendors to call if you experience a loss and know how to safely evacuate guests and employees if need be, said John Welty, president of SuiteLife Underwriting Managers. 

9. Work with a Hospitality Insurance Specialist

Exposures associated with a hotel are very different and much more complex than those associated with other asset classes. Having a broker that understands your business is key when designing a program to properly protect your needs, said Jackie Collins, senior director/senior VP, real estate and hospitality practice at Gallagher. 

10. Cover Everything

Be sure your liability policy doesn’t exclude coverage for assault and battery, firearms, sexual abuse and molestation, fungus and bacteria, pool chemicals, cleaning products, pesticides, herbicides and carbon monoxide, Collins said. Be sure it includes coverage for furniture, fixtures and equipment and external items like landscaping, swimming pools, paved surfaces and sidewalks. 

11. Be Transparent with Your Broker

Have a transparent and open communication approach with your broker. By sharing your business plan, operation structure and any plans to add or delete amenities a broker will be able to present options on insurance that fit your needs, Gore said.

12. Understand Your Costs

Insurance policies are rated on specific items like revenue, square footage and payroll. Spend time with your broker to understand how your numbers apply and establish the base rates on your policy, Gore said. 

13. Control Third-Party Risk

Where a lot of companies have financial exposure is third-party risk such as landscapers, window washers, plumbers, electricians, roofers and elevator maintenance, said Kenneth Raftree, risk compliance business development at Certrax.

14. Mitigate Your Exposure

Some larger hospitality companies offer a risk-management solution but sometimes things are missed, Raftree said. Enlisting another party to manage and mitigate these exposures can not only save your company time, but also allow employees to focus on day-to-day operations.

15. Monitor Technology Investments

The latest technology or new amenities can be great offerings for guests but it is important to ensure you fully research these offerings before purchasing them, Welty said. All of these amenities carry their own risks and benefits that should be reviewed with your broker, agent and legal counsel. 

16. Understand Your Total Cost of Risk

Premiums are just a small percentage of the overall cost. Deductibles and uninsured/underinsured losses should be taken into consideration as well.

17. Review Coverage Frequently

Review all coverage with your insurance broker on an annual basis at minimum. Such a review should include coverage related to property and casualty, workers’ compensation, cyber and employment practices liability. 

18. Provide Adequate Initial Incident Reports

Initial incident reports will be part of the claim file for the life of the claim. “Educate all team members on how to properly document an incident,” Collins said. “Never provide opinions. Stick with the facts.”

19. Market Your Account Appropriately

Present a best-in-class submission that includes management philosophies, the company’s growth goals, the hotelier’s safety and loss-prevention programs, changes made within the company in order to prevent repeat losses and schedules outlining adequate replacement cost values, revenues, vehicles and payroll, according to Collins.

20. Start the Process Early

Get started at least 120 days in advance of your renewal date. Insurance is not a commodity. No two insurance programs are the same and it takes time to put the right program together.