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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report

INSURANCE: RC Protects Provides Unprecedented Coverage for Canadian Foodservice


It is a simple premise that is being played out across many industry sectors. It’s called Channel Disruption. It is also having a significant impact in the Foodservice sector. Sectors of the business that have become un- competitive and change-avoidant (not listening to customers) are not only losing share/equity and earnings but are at risk of being wiped off the map. Restaurants Canada conducts quarterly research to gauge the industry pulse on these issues. The noise and frustration from operators is growing louder. This is largely due to decisions being made by governments across the country, be it alcohol pricing, credit card fees, minimum wage and hydro rates. And now, the insurance “game” is climbing to the top of the list for both operators and the supply side.

When it comes to insurance, operators are well aware of how the industry has been cast in a negative light. And, it has been going on for years, especially for those serving alcohol. There is a sense that ever-increasing premiums are unavoidable. It’s fair to say the industry under- stands that risks are higher between a nightclub that serves alcohol and a small pizza outlet that does not. Basic alcohol-to-food ratios have been one of the arbitrary measures used by insurers to set premium rates. However, what about a white tablecloth restaurant that happens to have a premium bar program? Their alcohol-to-food ratio would be higher. Why should their premiums raise automatically? Is it fair to allow massive hikes in premiums because of an arbitrary ratio? Certainly not. This is where Restaurant Canada’s journey began. We’re here to help the industry re-write the insurance agenda to better reflect the realities of your business.

Restaurants Canada has created a new insurance platform for the Foodservice Industry: This new program is branded RC Protects and this platform will offer market-changing programs for operators and their employees. Restaurants Canada has partnered with the Canadian Broker Network (CBN) for a full slate of customized programs for the operations side and JONES Deslauriers Blevins Insurance Management for a unique, customizable, employee benefits program.

“We wanted to use our collective voice to change some of the predatory practices in the insurance world,” says Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada’s CEO. “It has taken Restaurants Canada over 18 months of interviewing many insurance companies, both Canadian and international, including brokers of all sizes and combinations to help us change the game.” The only company left standing was the Canadian Broker Network.

Who is CBN?

The Canadian Broker Network is a collection of united independent insurance brokers across the country. They are committed to setting a new course in Canadian foodservice. CBN Chair Mike Robinson outlines Insurance 101 and the education process that has to happen in the industry. He feels that RC Protects and CBN can help lead the industry to achieve reduced rates. “We must educate operators on how the insurance ‘game’ actually works,” says Robinson.

Who is your insurer?

Operators must look at their total insurance package. And, more importantly, they need to know who is underwriting it. Unfortunately, most operators do not know.

Robinson adds, “In the insurance business, everyone has a friend in the business. We find far too often, the broker that you are dealing with is owned by an insurance company who is insuring you. So, whose interest are they acting on? Yours or their ‘bosses,’ the insurers? You guessed it, not yours.” Robinson continues, “At CBN we are fully INDEPENDENT brokers. We are not owned by or allowed to have insurance company investment in our businesses to have any conflict of interest. Restaurants Canada realized early that operators are not best served when this conflict exists. Together, our mandate is to act 100 per cent for the operator, full stop.”

CBN is unique as they target clients and client groups that have not had the benefit of proper planning around risk management. “The entire foodservice sector is stuck in the past when it comes to commercial insurance. Therefore, operators are at the mercy of the insurer’s agendas,” adds McLean Hallmark Gateway SVP & Managing Director, Stephen J Smith.

As an example, CBN has begun a process of re-writing the rules that are tailored specifically for the wine, craft breweries, distilleries and cideries. No another Canadian insurance company is approaching the needs of a sector as a whole, trying to disrupt the traditional insurance processes.

Carl Sparkes, the owner and CEO of Devonian Coast Wineries adds, “I learned the hard way this past year with an insurance policy that did not cover the loss of an accidental draining of a multi-thousand-litre tank. A few hundred thousand dollars down the drain! If I had the policy I have now through McLean Hallmark Gateway, part of the CBN family, that loss would have been negated. This team represents new thinking and puts the client first. Restaurants Canada members and those associate members need to listen up to this initiative.”


Changing the age-old process is key. Typically foodservice operators address their insurance requirements as an annual transaction—one that operators look at just before renewal, or when a claim happens. Much as your business drives efficiencies by having a business plan, foodservice operators should have a risk plan or insurance plan. Being in front of one’s risk will lead to fair premiums. The RC Protects program is designed to conduct a review, planning and pro-active process called The Risk Journey. This process is to allow the operator to get in front of their risk areas. CBN will look back at policies and claims and then help to develop custom strategies to blend risk tolerance, pricing and terms.

Where are the premiums going?

RC Protects will look for areas that can help operators reduce risk, which ultimately will lead to reduced premiums. Robinson adds, “Our position is that the operator should be able to [benefit from] profit[s] if there are no claims.” This is similar to how the auto sector reduces rates for safe drivers.

Gloria Gomes is the director of accounting at Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. O&B is living this process: “It is amazing all the things we found that you can do to help mitigate your costs,” says Gomes. “You won’t know what level of support you have until you make a claim. That is where you see a difference and why we switched. These guys walked us through the whole claims process. They even helped us design it, right through to fighting for us to get it done.”

Scott Francis is the president and CEO of SIAdvisers. With 45 years experience as a third-party claims adjuster, he knows the business from all angles. Can Restaurants Canada and CBN change the game? “From what I have seen, there is [a] formalized process being established to position the industry for change. Restaurants Canada and CBN are assembling a core team that includes lawyers, architects, engineers, etc., all of whom are specialists in their respective sides of the insurance claims processes.”

Francis points out, “The key for the industry is to develop consistent processes and structures that look for trends across the country. This will help build the parameters to present the issues/opportunities to underwriters. Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to try to properly educate operators across this sector as a whole. If Restaurants Canada, through CBN and their RC Protects program, can nail this one, they can certainly change the mindset of underwriters and change the game.”


Coverage for your Business needs: Allows operators to access a menu of coverages specific to your differentiating needs. Risk specialists identify hidden issues and provide proactive solutions to improve your rates. Receive broader coverage, better rates, risk management tools and customized coverage options.

RC Bullfrog

Insurance for small business operators: Built by a small business for your small businesses only. RC Bullfrog provides you with an immediate online quote and enrollment options for Restaurants Canada members in need of commercial general liability and property coverage—no waiting around! Whether you are in small foodservice, cart/kiosk, manufacturing or wholesale, Bullfrog Insurance can provide up to $5 million in commercial general liability coverage, up to $20,000 in equipment coverage.

RC MD Access

24/7 access to healthcare and advice: Can help prevent lawsuits with healthcare access and advice when you need it. When a guest or employee becomes ill or injured at your facility, what do you do? With MDAccess, you can speak with a Canadian nurse or doctor in minutes who will quickly assess the situation and recommend next steps. MDAccess provides advice and reassurance for both customers and staff. Comprehensive medical documentation reduces the potential for liability claims.


RC Home & Auto

Help Your Employees Save and Boost Retention: Offer home and auto insurance to all your employees. RC Employee Home and Auto insurance is a turn-key program that provides competitive pricing, coverage options and discounts to pass on to your staff. Your employees can benefit from better home and auto rates and service. Help retain and attract top talent by helping them save.

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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report