By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
Colby's Breakfast & Lunch in Portsmouth, N.H., is so fed up with politicians that it's asking them to stay out. "No Politicians. No exception,"says a sign on the restaurant's front door, according to a recent report aired by a CBS affiliate in Boston.
While some restaurants would kill for the attention of having Republican presidential contenders come through their doors, Colby's stance is emphatic. For Colby's owners, presidential hopefuls are just not worth the risk. "There is no forewarning and all of a sudden they come in and we are overrun by cameras and blah, blah and blah," owner Jeremy Colby was quoted as saying.
There is another, more mundane reason for shutting out the politicians as they gear up for "silly season," in this presidential election cycle. For restaurant owners, the hordes of political followers, security people and media tend to attract the curious who would rather spring $2.00 for coffee instead of $10 or $15 to sit down and eat a proper meal.
"Where you have crowds, you can't turn over the tables," said Doreen Morris, area senior vice president of Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc.'s Chicago office. Restaurants or general stores that can expect stumping politicians are free to simply restrict the number of people coming in, Morris said.
In fact, that may be the best way to manage the risk of political primaries. General liability policies usually taken out by restaurants or corner stores don't have exclusions for political gatherings.
Owners are free, however, to buy special events coverage for, say, the week of the New Hampshire primary, Morris said.
The New Hampshire primary is January 10, followed by the South Carolina on Jan. 21, Florida on Jan. 31, Missouri on Feb. 7, and Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 28.
Super Tuesday is being held on March 6 and 11 states, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming will hold their primary contests.
Between now and then, several states also have caucuses. At every stop, the candidates will deliver their stump speeches, shake hands with patrons in local diners and hold impromptu gatherings in stores up and down Main Street.
Mike Wiebe, founder of Mike Wiebe Associates, which advises small business on their risk management strategies, said that under no circumstances should owners try and manage a crowd by hiring night watchmen or retired local police officers to protect their property.
"They can't do it half-way," Wiebe said. "They can't go hire a retired security guard who is a night watchman and has no clue what an incident control center or what mutual assistance agreements entail."
It's much better for business owners to hire a security firm and sign a contract with indemnification clauses that protect them. Then they should make sure the security firm they hire has insurance, Wiebe said. Doing that, he said, ensures that owners are taking the proper steps to transfer the risk.
Security details are arranged by the individual campaigns, said Nino Saviano, president of Washington-based Saviano Political Consulting, which advises political candidates. He said campaigns often hire private security in the form of police officers or retired security officials. U.S. Secret Service protection typically gets involved later in the race, when a front-runner has emerged, he said.
January 10, 2012
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