The Relationship Factor
November 1, 2012
For Parks, the Link to Agents and Brokers is Critical
Dealing with insurance companies goes beyond picking up the phone and reporting an accident. Waterpark owners and managers said developing relationships with insurance brokers and agents is crucial.
“I think we try to be transparent and try to give them all the information we have and then some about everything, whether it’s how we operate or when it comes to reporting an accident,” said Andy Weiner, owner of Splash Zone in Wildwood, N.J.
Joe Jenkins, general manager for Daytona Lagoon in Daytona Beach, Fla., agreed: “It’s definitely important to converse often,” he said. “And it’s not just dealing with claims, but also mitigating potential problems and identifying potential problems together. Fortunately, we have a great record here and haven’t had any major occurrences, but it’s important to bring them in early when something does happen. They can help with an investigation and be a part of it. Most claims don’t go anywhere, but it’s better if they know.”
Waterpark owners and managers should be aggressive when it comes to negotiating insurance.
“When we think they are not asking the questions we think they should be asking, we remind them,” Weiner said. “We might be able to offer even more information than what they are asking for to get our premium even lower. We might have some safety feature they didn’t ask about, and we make sure we tell them. It could end up in a discount on your premiums. So it’s important to give them all the information they want and more.”
Jenkins said insurance rates change so much, it’s necessary to shop annually.
“Price is always a concern,” he said. “Look at your claim ratios and make sure you are getting a good deal. And if you have a good agent, you can work with them on this by conversing with them. But you should also shop elsewhere. Prices fluctuate year by year and carrier by carrier. They might adjust how they rate a particular attraction and you are all of a sudden paying a higher premium. So it’s important to have that communication with your insurance company so you know what will and what won’t affect your premium and if something does change. You may end up going back to a carrier you had once before who didn’t make that same change.”
“We re-bid our insurance every year,” added Rick Redmond, president of the Shore Club in Volente, Texas. “We talk to a couple of different companies months before the bid process.”
Shopping insurance companies is equally important, particularly if you have a broker that can do the work for you.
“It’s important to shop insurance companies every year to make sure we are getting the best rate possible,” Weiner said. “We found a broker we can rely on, and we have built a relationship with the broker to make sure we are getting the best deal we can. They shop around every year to make sure you aren’t paying too much. This is not homeowner coverage when you can call an agent and you get a policy. Things change every year. So having a broker who knows what questions to ask can result is some major savings.”
And good communication could result in making operations easier.
“We had a zombie run out here last month and we called (our broker) to tell her we were doing it,” said Pat Mossburg, owner of Paradise Waterpark in Silsbee, Texas. “And our insurance company didn’t want to insure the event, so she helped us find a company that did.” –