Safety and Your Insurance Company

 01_21_16 Insurance


This article was started years ago, yet I could say I called a potential client yesterday. This wasn’t a cold call, it was to a long term associate – a club manager – who knows that I help clubs with safety.

After we exchanged pleasantries, I asked if he needed help with safety at his club; perhaps a simulated OSHA site assessment? Or maybe help with safety policies?

He told me that he doesn’t need my help as he has a great safety program in place and his insurance agent is administering the program!

Not having anything to lose, I inquired if I could ask a few questions about his program?
I’ll omit his responses, yet as a person specializing in club safety issues, I will say that his agent may know about insurance policies yet his agent is definitely not aware of many safety requirements for private clubs!

Perhaps this manager’s initial intent was to give me the brush off by sharing he was in great shape, yet his answers showed me there were serious safety concerns. Looking back, I realize I never asked how long they have been addressing the various concerns. The reason I mention this is: no business can address all the safety issues at one time; it is a gradual process – where you continually add more concerns.

Recently, I decided I needed more information on utilizing your insurance agent and/or your insurance company’s resources to enhance safety programs. So I called an industry peer. A former club manager who is an insurance agent/program manager, David Harnois, CCM, President of Affinity Agency Group, LLC.

Our various discussions, emails and file sharing yielded many nuggets. The first item David shared is: “It has always been our contention that content is free; the application of, and the desire to apply this information is generally where the typical club falls down.”   

Another topic was our perception of managerial tenure. If a manager is new to the job he/she can’t address safety concerns as they are numerous other high-priority needs to attend to before safety. And if a long-term manager departs, there is the brain drain on programs and procedures.

Cost cutting mandates have also precluded managers from addressing safety. Yet when something goes awry, it is definitely the manager’s lack of forethought! (No one ever recalls the Board’s mandate to cut costs!)

Starting Your Program
Awareness of what can go wrong is the first step. Obviously, risk cannot be addressed if your particular vulnerabilities are not known. There is an obvious dichotomy: if you are inexperienced and do not know what can go wrong, there is no way to address the concern.

Call your insurance agent and ask what your insurance company can do for you. What policies and programs are necessary?  Do these programs have to be developed from scratch?  Or does your company have something on the shelf?  Recognize you are now getting involved. You will have to commit time, money and effort to build an effective program.

Ask what injuries have occurred over the past 5 years?  Look at your worker’s comp loss run. Are all these items listed on your OSHA 300 logs?
Will they help with the development of your emergency action/reaction plans?

Does the underwriter give the club a premium discount if you have already developed the required OSHA policies for your operation?

Achatz recommends you ask what experience does your insurance company have with your type of club?

Does the agent/underwriter know what safety policies and procedures are required for your operation?

Are training videos available?

Why Don’t Clubs Actively Address Safety?
David shared some great insights: They have not had a serious loss. They have been lucky. Possibly events have never directly impacted their operation.

He also added: A wise man once said you can lead a horse to water but you can’t manage him to drink. We’re here with various materials available.  You just have to determine what kind of Club you want to LEAD!

Closing Thoughts From Both Of Us
If addressing safety was an easy task you would have already done it!

Forward thinking executives will not let the soft market for purchasing Club insurance deter them from instituting best practices. A culture of practiced safety goes hand in hand with the service attitude evident at all well run operations. This is not just an economic issue or something you can do for a while and forget about; especially with the high level of staff turn-over existing today.

Safety and Risk Management practices are an important and often overlooked part of running any business; and a loss control visit by a trained industry expert would certainly be a great place to begin.

We recognize that we personally can’t help all clubs yet we can share our perspectives and insights!

AAchatzAlan E. Achatz, CCM, CHE is a former club manager who assists clubs with safety issues  including emergency action planning / plan implementation, crisis management, OSHA compliance and behind the scenes safety audits. Alan has written extensively about safety concerns for clubs. He may be reached at (716) 565-9122 or at

David A. Harnois, CCM, is the President and CEO of the Affinity Agency Group, LLC; a general insurance agency specializing in commercial and group program business. David provides insurance solutions for hundreds of club throughout the world. He may be reached at (973) 984-1000 x111 or at