The year was 1987, and many businesses were suffering through an insurance crisis. While many industries were affected, hotels and resorts, in particular, were having trouble securing adequate liability insurance. There were very high umbrella limits, which were proving detrimental to many resort owners.
At the time, a group of resort owners would meet once a year as part of the Resort Committee of what was then know as the American Hotel & Motel Association, now AH&LA. “They all knew each other and there was a level of trust among them,” says Brooks Chase, who now serves as president and CEO of the Resort Hotel Association (RHA), an association of resort owners and operators that was born of the AH&LA’s Resort Committee. “Those owners decided that they’d be better off working together than individually to deal with the insurance dilemma.”
A year earlier, the Federal Risk Retention Act was passed, and it allowed like-kinds of businesses to combine their insurance to increase their purchasing power. It was an opportunity for the resort owners to band together. “They were able to use that as a vehicle to put it all together,” Chase says.
In October of 1987, six original players—the Breakers, the Broadmoor, the Grand Hotel, the Greenbrier, the Hotel Del Coronado, and Sea Island—formed a group to purchase insurance together. That was the start of RHA, and this year, the association is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a not-for-profit insurance association with 132 members resorts more than $7 billion in total insured values.
RHA works with brokers and insurance companies to develop and administer property and casualty programs for its members. It also provides an array of member services, including claims management, loss control and promotions. RHA is professionally managed by a full-time president and staff. An active board of directors comprises representatives of its member resorts. The board meets three times a year, and encourages non-board members to attend and actively participate.
The association got a jumpstart with its second group of members, when Colonial Williamsburg Foundation joined. Chase’s predecessor, Jean van Toll, worked for Colonial Williamsburg and would become the association’s first employee. “She started doing the insurance work for the association on the side,” Chase says. “When the demands grew, she left Colonial Williamsburg and went to work full time for RHA and it’s grown from there.”
And grown and grown. Today, RHA offers several insurance programs for resorts, such as property insurance, casualty insurance, and pollution insurance. It has arguably the broadest coverage available in the hospitality industry. Because it only serves the hospitality industry, it can actively pursue a specialized approach to underwriting, claims management, and loss prevention. It also offers scholarship programs and education for professionals in the industry.
Now 25 years in, the association is still adding new members and continues to gain power in purchasing of insurance programs. And, as Chase says, it’s looking forward to another 25 years and beyond.
Friday, May 11, 2012 by cardil