Employees

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Meet Our Commercial Lines Territory Manager, Bryon Hutter!

This month, we welcomed Bryon to Hospitality Insurance Group as our new Commercial Lines Territory Manager based at our headquarters in Southborough, Massachusetts.  Get to know Bryon in our latest Q&A interview below.

 

What is your full name?

Bryon Hutter

 

When is your birthday?

02/03

 

Where do you live?

Ashland, MA

 

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over 20 years (time flies!) My insurance career began in the mailroom at Liberty Mutual in NJ during college and progressed into various claims and underwriting roles over the years. My most recent experience includes senior field underwriting positions at Nationwide Insurance and Utica National.

 

What brought you to Hospitality Insurance Group?

I’m a foodie at heart and really like socializing over good food and drinks with friends and family. I’ve enjoyed working hospitality accounts over my years as a generalist underwriter and have always wanted to work more of this business. I was intrigued by the opportunity to join HIG and very impressed by the leadership vision for the future. We are going to do great things together!

 

Do you hold any industry certifications?

My CPCU is in progress.

 

Since we’re in the hospitality business, what is your favorite drink of choice to order when out with friends? (cocktail, beer, wine, etc.)

This is an easy question for me! My favorite spirits are Campari and Gin; so it will have to be a Negroni.

 

What is your favorite restaurant in your area?

With the closing of Blue Ginger, Bocado in Wellesley has quickly become a new favorite. Each meal is like an adventure and it doesn’t hurt that they also make a great variation of the Negroni!

 

What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time?

My 2 kids, wife and I enjoy exploring — we’ve been on road trips throughout the East coast and take lots of local weekend “adventures” to museums, beaches, and parks.

If you could go to any Boston sporting event, what would it be? (Boston Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics)

Being a long time Penguins fan I always look forward to a Pens Bruins matchup. I have some great memories of Mario Lemieux and Ray Bourque playing on the ice together.

 

Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?

Besides making animal balloons for my kids and their friends, I really have a passion for cooking; Braised short ribs, chicken piccata and Asparagus wrapped in spinach crepes with béchamel sauce are the real crowd pleasers.

 

How can people reach you?

 

Bryon T. Hutter

New England Territory Manager

Direct: 774.512.9253 | Cell: 508.335.6655

bhutter@hmic.com

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Insuring The Liquor Business

Insuring The Liquor Business

Name: Richard (Dick) Welch

Title: President and CEO, Hospitality Insurance Group

Age: 57

Experience: 30 Years

For the last three decades, Richard Welch has held a variety of roles in the insurance industry in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He spent most of his career at Travelers Insurance where he worked for 25 years, eventually rising to president and CEO of The Premiere Insurance Co. of Massachusetts, a subsidiary of Travelers. After Travelers, Welch spent a few years as an independent consultant before joining Concord Mutual Insurance Co., where he was vice president of corporate planning. Now, the Watertown, Connecticut native is the CEO of the Hospitality Insurance Group, which has offices in Southborough, Massachusetts, and Plantsville, Connecticut. The company, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, began strictly as a joint underwriting authority that sold liability insurance to entities that have liquor licenses. It then expanded its model and now sells to a variety of different kinds of insurance in other states.

Q: How did you get into the insurance business?

A: I was working for a company in another industry, which wasn’t doing very well, and I didn’t think the prospects for long-term employment there were great. So, I looked at the insurance industry. When I first interviewed with Travelers, it seemed like a great fit. They made me an offer and I spent a few years in Hartford before they transferred me to Massachusetts to manage the personal lines insurance business in the state. I became president and CEO of Travelers of Massachusetts, leading a $350 million personal lines insurance company, where we enjoyed a great deal of success, returning over $500 million in profits during my tenure.

How I ended up at Hospitality: The company’s president decided to retire last year, and the company was searching for a new CEO. I have a good relationship with a few of the board members at Hospitality, one of whom approached me about the opportunity. I liked what I heard and came on board earlier this year. It’s a great company and we have big plans!

Q: What are the challenges for insuring liquor licenses and insurance?

A: One of the biggest challenges for any business which sells liquor and holds a liquor license is to minimize their exposure and risk. Bars and restaurants encounter significant exposure if they inadvertently over-serve a customer. The potential results of such actions can lead to automobile accidents, injuries or fatalities. It’s essential for bars, restaurants and package stores to carry the appropriate amount of liquor liability insurance. As bars and restaurants are small businesses, few can afford to fund large liabilities, which could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single incident.

From the insurance company’s viewpoint, the key challenge relates to underwriting and managing claims. What are the annual sales figures? What is the company’s history? Company history is important for us to understand in assessing whether we can write a policy for an individual business.

The other consideration is for us to counsel our clients on how to reduce risk of exposure to loss, so that there are fewer bad situations and if there is one, to be certain that clients don’t do anything to make a bad situation worse. When lawsuits are filed against bars and restaurants, they are often frivolous. We work with our clients to educate them through loss control how to deal with those frivolous lawsuits.

Loss control is beneficial for bars, package stores and restaurants because it keeps our costs down, which allows us to charge our customers less. We are a mutual company, which means we are owned by policyholders. Everything we do is ultimately in their collective interest.

Q: Has the cost of liquor licenses changed?

A: The cost of licenses is regulated by communities and changes from place to place, and there hasn’t been a significant change in the cost for a restaurant or bar to obtain a license to sell alcohol. As far as the cost to obtain liability coverage, that is dependent in large part on the customer’s history – a mixture of frequency of claims and risk factors.

Hospitality Insurance Group is a niche writer within the insurance business. While there are standard insurance companies that will write liquor liability policies for restaurants, the number of agencies who will write similar policies for bars or taverns is much less. It’s a risky line of business unless you really know the specifics of this type of insurance. Our expertise translates into knowing how to assess risk, how to handle insurance claims and how to help keep costs down for the customer.

Q: What is the different between this type of insurance in Connecticut versus Massachusetts?

A: The potential liability of establishments that serve liquor is defined by something called “Dram Shop Laws.” Connecticut’s Dram Shop Law is somewhat unique in that it limits the liability to $250,000 for any single incident except in a case of the reckless service of alcohol. This limit helps keep insurance more affordable for Connecticut bars and restaurants.

Welch’s Five Favorite Writers:

  1. Jon Krakauer
  2. Michael Lewis
  3. Charles Mann
  4. Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  5. Levitt & Dubner
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Meet Our Marketing Manager, Mark!

In March 2018, we welcomed Mark Trombly to Hospitality Insurance Group as our new Marketing Manager in Southborough, Massachusetts. Get to know Mark in our latest “Meet the Staff” blog post interview.

 

Where do you live?

Charlton, MA

 

Tell us a little bit about your background. 

I have been I the insurance industry for 34 years with the majority of the time in marketing roles.   I have worked for large and small companies writing all lines of business and specialty companies focusing on one line of business.  I have held positions in claims, personal lines underwriting and marketing.

 

Do you hold any industry certifications? 

CPCU, CIC, AIS and I am past president of the Central MA CPCU Chapter

 

Since we’re in the hospitality business, what is your favorite drink of choice to order when out with friends? (cocktail, beer, wine, etc.)

Vodka & tonic

 

What inspired you to start in this industry?

Finishing up college I had an interest in the banking and insurance fields.  An opportunity came up in insurance first and that’s how I got started.

 

What is your favorite restaurant in your area? 

Chuck’s Steakhouse or Coney Island Hotdogs

 

What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time?

Skiing, golfing, hiking and travel

 

If you could go to any Boston sporting event, what would it be? (Boston Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics) 

Boston Bruins

 

Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?

I’m a meatatarian – never met a vegetable I liked.  My motto is friends don’t let friends eat vegetables.

 

How can people contact you? 

Mark Trombly, CPCU, CIC, AIS
Marketing Manager
Direct Line: 774-512-9266
Toll-Free: 877-366-1140

Fax: 508-836-4940
Cell: 508-847-7258
Email: mtrombly@hmic.com
Hospitality Insurance Group
106 Southville Road
Southborough, MA 01772

www.hospitality-mutual.com

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Meet Our Pennsylvania Underwriter, Kristina!

In January of 2018, we welcomed Kristina Kahmer to Hospitality Insurance Group as our new Senior Underwriter in Pennsylvania. Get to know Kristina in our latest Q&A interview.

What is your full name?
Kristina Kahmer

 

Do you have a nickname?
When I was little everyone called me Kris

 

Where do you live in Pennsylvania?
Ridley Park

 

Since we’re in the hospitality business, what is your favorite drink of choice to order when out with friends?
My favorite drink to order when I’m out is the espresso martini.

 

We know you’re probably an Eagles fan so the Patriots might be out, but if you could go to any Boston sporting event, what would it be?

Yes, we are huge Eagles fans, my husband and the neighbors were able to get a permit to shut our street down and we had great Eagles tailgate before the game. My family and I are huge lacrosse fans and our beloved Philadelphia Wings moved to New England in 2014, so my husband and I go to Connecticut at least once a year to watch the New England Black Wolves play. I would love to see the Red Sox play at Fenway.

 

 

What certifications do you currently hold?
CPCU Chartered Public Casualty Underwriter & AAI Accredited Advisor in Insurance

 

How many years of Underwriting experience do you have?
16

 

What is your favorite restaurant in Pennsylvania?
My favorite restaurant is R2L Philadelphia, the food is amazing and the views of the city are stunning!

 

What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time?
I have three children so in my spare time I like to do activities with them and watching them play lacrosse. My oldest daughter goes to the University of Alabama so we have been visiting there quite a bit.

 

Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
Both my husband and I are in insurance, he owns a couple of Allstate offices so he writes personal lines and I write commercial.

 

How can people contact you? 

Kristina Kahmer CPCU, AAI
Commercial Underwriter
Hospitality Insurance Group
106 Southville Road Southborough, MA 01772
Phone: 774-512-9265
Toll Free: 877-366-1140
Fax: 508-836-4940
www.hospitality-mutual.com

Email: kkahmer@hmic.com

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10 Ways To Help Prevent Potential Lawsuits From Your Company Holiday Party

Tis the season for holiday parties, eggnog and late nights. We attend the ugly sweater parties, the family traditions, and most common, attending the annual work party. Many companies spend weeks, even months, planning their holiday party. They plan everything from where the event will take place down to the type of silverware placed on the table. However, one aspect of the event planning people tend to forget is liquor liability insurance.

Most would like to think their guests are mature, responsible adults who know their limit.

During the holidays that thought process tends to escape the mind of most people. 20% of survey respondents in a 2010 survey by Forbes have said they had too much to drink at a holiday party. We see results of this every year on the news of that one person who made the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a holiday party and taking the life of another driver in fatal car accident. Many think the only person responsible for this accident is the driver, but in many cases, attorneys will sue anyone who may have been responsible including the host, owners, event planners, bartenders, and servers.

Issues arising from the company holiday party could be extreme and some could be just plain embarrassing.

Three possible extreme scenarios include:

  1. Your guests get in an automobile accident on the way home, injuring a family of three.
  2. You or one of your guests is injured during the festivities like this scenario in an article by National Public Radio“At an office party four years ago, a fellow co-worker brought eggnog that contained whiskey, Scotch, as well as bourbon. … It was delicious and the booze was nigh-undetectable. Everyone became incredibly sloshed. … As the night progressed, someone made a makeshift slip-and-slide in the warehouse that was quite fun until the IT guy of the office broke his collarbone going face first and 911 was called. We still talk about this office party to this day.”
  3. Damage to the property from someone allegedly being overserved.

So how do you keep things under control? Here are 10 ways to help prevent a lawsuit from arising from your company holiday party.

  1. Hold your function earlier in the afternoon when people tend to drink less.
  2. There is a reason Fenway park stops serving alcohol after the seventh inning stretch. They are thinking about the safety of their guests and you should too. Stop serving alcohol a few hours before the party is expected to end. Cut off drinks during dinner or dessert to give people a rest from consuming.
  3. Offer Uber gift cards or recommend overnight accommodations to guests.
  4. Offer entertainment like dancing, a photo booth, team games or a comedian so people have something to do other than drink.
  5. Invite families. People are less likely to go a little crazy with the spouse or kids at a company holiday party.
  6. Encourage guests to use transportation such as Uber, Lyft or a taxi to and from the party.
  7. Serve food at the event.
  8. Don’t let people serve themselves, hire a trained staff to serve and monitor guests alcohol consumption.
  9. Make sure bartenders and caterers are TIPS certified.
  10. Only offer beer and wine.

Without liquor liability insurance, you can be held responsible and sued for allowing them to become intoxicated and proceeding to operate a vehicle.

Do you still think liquor liability isn’t a necessity?

Laws regarding liquor licenses and liquor liability coverage vary by state, so it is important to be aware of the laws in your state before planning an event where alcohol is going to be served. If you are an Independent Insurance Agent, click here to learn more about working with Hospitality Insurance Group to provide liquor liability insurance to your customers. If you are a business owner looking for liquor liability insurance coverage, click here to contact one of our preferred Independent Insurance Agents or find answers to some of your frequently asked questions about our insurance coverage here.

by By John W. Tympanick By John W. Tympanick No Comments

Employees Drinking After Hours: A Recipe for Disaster

For bar and restaurant owners, their business is their livelihood, their pride and joy, an enormous investment they have more than likely worked tirelessly to build and maintain.

Opening a bar or restaurant is known to be a risky undertaking. Statistics show that anywhere between 60-90% of bars and restaurants fail within 1-3 years. In an industry where failure is common, would restaurant owners want to increase that risk? Probably not.

Whether to the owner’s knowledge or not, many bar and restaurant employees engage in an activity that seems to be a common trend in the industry – drinking on premises after their shift, most commonly after hours. Whereas the owner may not always be privy to this activity by their employees, it exposes their business to potential disaster.

With the holidays around the corner, it is important to discuss the potential consequences associated with employees drinking after closing.

A risk you should not be willing to take

Numerous bartenders and restaurant employees alike see this common practice as a fringe benefit of working in the industry. Just like many of us, bar and restaurant employees like to wind down after work with a drink or two, or three, or maybe even four. This practice is far more common around the holidays when employees are working longer hours. Many bars and restaurants even throw their holiday parties on premises after hours.

It is certainly not in the best interest of the owner to allow their employees to drink on premises after their shift. Federal traffic safety data shows that the daily death toll from drunk driving during the holiday season is significantly more than the rest of the year. By the time bar/restaurant employees are done with their shift, sometimes spending 12 or more hours on their feet, they are likely to be exhausted. Combine exhaustion with the effects of alcohol and you have a recipe for disaster. Never mind the fact that some employees may not even be of the legal drinking age. Or that allowing people to drink on premises after hours may very well be a violation of the establishment’s liquor license, which is often a vital part of the operation.

Allowing this behavior can have devastating consequences. It is the type of behavior that can be too costly for the establishment to bear. It could even be deadly.

A lethal combination

In December of 2011, one of the nation’s most highly regarded restaurants saw their worst nightmare unfold. A nightmare that amounted to a million dollar settlement from a drunken driving crash.

The incident occurred at 4 a.m. when an employee of the restaurant caused a crash that killed a 32-year-old man. This employee had a blood-alcohol level of .024%, three times the legal limit. He was charged with felony driving under the influence.

The family of the man who was killed in the accident filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the restaurant allowed their employee to drink excessively after hours and then get in his car and drive. This restaurant that was named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Apetit Magazine and was also ranked one of the “101 Best Places to Eat in the World” by Newsweek.

How could this happen at such a highly regarded establishment?

The dining group that owns this restaurant and three others already had a policy in place that prohibits employees from drinking on the premises. According to the president of the dining group, no consumption of alcohol was to be allowed by any employee in the workplace. In this case, there was a clear violation of this policy and that is simply the problem. It is easy for a business to put a policy in place but enforcing it is usually the difficult part.

How can you ensure this will not happen to you? 

As with anything, there is no guarantee that something of this nature cannot and will not happen to you, but there are steps you can take to curtail the risk.

Here is what we recommend:

  1. Implement a no-tolerance policy prohibiting employees from drinking on the premises before, during and after their shift.
  2. Enforce this policy. (How, you might ask?)
  3. Train your employees – There are many courses available to educate your employees on the potential dangers of alcohol – over serving a patron, serving a minor, serving a patron who is already intoxicated, etc. Some insurance companies even offer a discount on their insurance to those establishments that have trained their staff (go towww.hmic.com/Approved-Training-Programs for details).
  4. Install surveillance cameras inside your establishment and check them regularly to ensure employees are not drinking before, during or after their shift.
  5. Do not give second chances. If you catch an employee drinking during or after their shift, terminate them immediately.

The bottom line here is this: not only could you lose a valued employee from an OUI, or even worse, a serious injury or death, but you jeopardize your business if you allow your employees to drink on premises after hours. For most of you, your business is your livelihood – is that worth risking?

John W. Tympanick is the President & CEO of Hospitality Insurance Group.

 

Please be advised that the opinions expressed are the views of the author alone and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity and shall not constitute a legal opinion.

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