Bowling Centers: Finding the Best Insurance

For bowling center owners, finding the right insurance coverage for the bowling alley is no easy feat. With numerous factors to consider, such as liquor liability protection, general liability, equipment breakdown coverage, protection against food spoilage and contamination, and so many more, the task of securing exactly the right kind of coverage is enough to make a business owner’s head spin. The key is being fortunate enough to find the right agent and maintaining good working relationships, so bowling alley entrepreneurs can rest assured that their coverage needs are being met.

A view of a food concession and bright carpeting at Woody’s Bowling Center. The owner stressed the importance of getting several quotes when shopping for the right insurance.

Allie Brandt Lanes, in Lockport, N.Y., offers a top quality bowling experience to their customers, including the popular Cosmic Bowling, where guests can bowl in glow-in-the-dark lanes while listening to heart-pumping music. While the guests fill the lanes, having the time of their lives, Owner Brian Borowski works hard, behind-the-scenes, to ensure that not only are his guests happy, but that he and his employees are covered in case something unexpected happens. 

Deck lighting at Yosemite Lanes. Regarding yearly adjustments to insurance coverage, the owner said “Nobody wants to find themselves in a position where something happens, and you could have been covered if only you’d paid more attention.”

According to Borowski, when it comes to finding the best insurance coverage, bowling alley owners should look for an agent who is willing to get multiple quotes. “Unfortunately, there are some agents out there that may receive ‘kickbacks’ for selling a particular insurance company,” Borowski warned. The best way to avoid falling into that trap is to get multiple quotes  in order to find the one that best suits the needs of the business owner. As with any business relationship, there is some trial and error in securing and then maintaining a good relationship with an agent. Borowski and his current agent work well together and his agent has earned a great deal of trust by making Borowski’s needs a top priority and answering any question in a timely matter. 

Yosemite Lanes employees Tori Young, Shawnna Wheat and Joel Wheat. The Modesto, Calif., facility holds an annual Autism Speaks Fundraiser. The owner stays in frequent contact with his insurance agent.

Insurance needs are always changing, which is why Borowski reviews his coverage annually. “In the bowling industry, it is very important that you have enough coverage,” said Borowski. “You have to be sure that you are fully protected. There have been too many situations in which businesses are under-insured. It is also important to review your liability insurance in the event of slips and falls. You need to take all of your assets into consideration when purchasing your limits.” Borowski also urges larger centers to be sure to purchase additional umbrellas to protect themselves, in the event that the unexpected should occur.

Pro Shop Manager Alex Bermudez operates a drill at Yosemite Lanes. The owner finds it easy to keep a good relationship with an insurance agent once the right company is hired.

A call over to Woody’s Bowling Center, Buckhannon, W.V., found Owner, Cemantha Woody, having lunch with her insurance agent. “It is definitely important to work with an agent that you like and enjoy being around,” said Woody. “Our community is a small one, so we are lucky enough to be able to know our agents really well.” In addition to the occasional lunch, Woody said her agent goes above and beyond, ensuring that the bowling alley is completely protected. “He truly thinks of everything, even things I would never have even thought of. That is the kind of agent everyone should have and it’s what makes the relationship work. I can see that we are one of his priorities, it’s very clear.”

Like Borowski, Woody stressed the importance of getting several quotes when shopping for the right insurance. “You want to find an agent that meets your needs. You must make sure that not only is the price right for you, but that your particular needs are covered, because everyone’s needs are so different.” Comparing prices and coverage options is vital.

The owner of Yosemite Lanes reviews his insurance coverage yearly. Shown is a display of bowling balls in the Pro Shop.

Woody also reviews her coverage on a yearly basis. “Each year, I take a close look at our coverage. I review the price and do some cost comparisons. Can we get cheaper insurance elsewhere? I also sometimes need to add to our coverage or change something,” Woody said. Looking over an insurance policy can be tedious but it absolutely necessary. “You have to look at every piece and be sure you are covered in the event that something goes wrong.”

For Jim Gordon, owner of Yosemite Lanes in Modesto, Calif., the number one factor in considering an insurance agent is finding out if they have the ability to investigate claims to ensure that they are justified. Not all agents are given the authority to do that, but for Gordon, not having that authority is a deal-breaker. Amount of coverage and rates are also top priority for Gordon as well. 

Gamers in special chairs at Yosemite Lanes. The amount of insurance coverage and rates are a top priority for the owner when buying insurance.

“Once you find the right agent for you and your business needs, it is pretty easy to keep a good relationship with one another,” Gordon said. For his part, he stays in frequent contact with his agent, keeping him informed of any incidents, and checks in often to see if there is anything new he should know about. “I also ask if there are any marketplace newsletters or information that would be good to know about. It’s just good business to keep abreast of anything new,” Gordon said.

Buckhannon, W.V.’s Woody’s Bowling Center employees, photographed on opening day, November 10, 2018, were Caleigh, Katy, Dana, Autumn and Diane.

Like both Borowski and Woody, Gordon also reviews his insurance coverage yearly. “It is typical for us to adjust our coverage each year; we always find we have different needs as the year goes on,” stated Gordon. Some common changes for him are a larger workforce and real estate value, to name a couple, and being adequately covered is of utmost priority. “Nobody wants to find themselves in a position where something happens, and you could have been covered if only you’d paid more attention.”

Every bowling center is unique, not just in the fun and events that are offered, but also in the risks they face if not adequately covered by insurance. With so many factors to consider, finding the right coverage can be extremely confusing, even to the most experienced businessperson. Fortunately, relief from insurance-stress and confusion can be found through the right agent. Working with an agent who goes out of their way to find a policy that covers exactly what is required, for the best price, is one factor, but, like Cemantha Woody found, finding an agent you can also lunch with is the best deal of all. 

Cody Garrett of Loudin Insurance, Owner Cemantha Woody of Woody’s Bowling Center and Jaime Powell, also of Loudin Insurance. “He truly thinks of everything, even things I would never have even thought of,” Woody said of her insurance agent.

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