October’s Las Vegas tragedy crystalized the dramatic changes in today’s world. Wherever people gather, the rules of engagement and their protection is evolving quickly.
Just two weeks before the horrific events in Nevada, the New York City Hospitality Alliance had gathered for a technology conference. Among the firms in attendance was McGowan Hospitality Programs. On their table was a brochure outlining their portfolio of services that they have launched in coordination with the Alliance. In very bold letters that very same literature spoke of an Active Shooter.
So you can just imagine the irony and horror of Total Food Service that had in fact scheduled an interview with McGowan’s Hospitality chief Kevin O’Connor to discuss that topic on the Friday before the Las Vegas shooting. Due to conflicting schedules, the interview was moved to the following Monday. Almost unbelievably the shooting occurred on Sunday night.
So needless to say when TFS visited with McGowan’s O’Connor, the discussion took a very different turn as the discussion of the previous night’s tragedy turned the hypothetical into the actual.
An overview of Kevin O’Connor’s extensive experience makes it easy to understand how the veteran insurance executive could separate the emotion of the shooting from the need to remain focused on structuring a strategy to protect New York City’s restaurant operator that God forbid should ever have to deal with the same circumstances as their Sin City brethren.
O’Connor oversees McGowan’s Program Administrators that is a leading provider of insurance products for Restaurant Insurance nationwide. The suite of insurance programs includes Property and General Liability Insurance as well as Umbrella Insurance.
The New Jersey based executive grew up in the insurance industry. His father Joe was a well-known partner at the prestigious Lloyds of London and a reinsurance broker. So at the tender age of fourteen, Kevin O’Connor found himself on the floor of Lloyds considered to be the most iconic of the world’s insurance brands. His mentors were, of course, his father and the industry legend gentleman Sal Zaffino who was the chairman of Guy Carpenter Company. They taught him “hard work achieves success and that hard work gets you in the direction of success and no job is above your reach or below your depth.”
Before joining McGowan, O’Connor owned and managed the RCA agency. The priorities of the restaurant insurance industry have evolved dramatically through the span of O’Connor’s career. “Years ago, we dealt with issues including liquor liability and food safety.” The firm specialized in restaurant coverage and was sold in 2015. Tom McGowan shared O’Connor’s vision and passion for the restaurant and hospitality sector and appointed him as managing director of McGowan Hospitality.
That very same vision, led to the creation of McGowan’s Active Shooter and Workplace Violence insurance program in 2015. “As the nation continues to face daily threats of terror it is vital if not a necessity for businesses as well to take action against acts such as the Las Vegas shooting,” McGowan explained.
O’Connor points to five steps every organization should take to protect against active shooter incidents. “We are suggesting to our restaurant and hospitality clients to begin with an update of and improvement in security measures because routine security is the first line of defense.” In addition, an effective and safe evacuation plan should be in place as well investing in text alert systems. An important aspect towards keeping your employees safe in case of an emergency is to train employees. Emergency equipment such as landline phones, first-aid kits and a basic outline of how to access wounds should be in place in any organization. “Lastly, businesses should be insured by a provider that guarantees primary liability coverage as well as coverage for property damage, business interruption expenses and post-crisis management,” O’Connor added.
Among the other major changes that O’Connor has seen in the restaurant and hospitality insurance industry is the challenge of social media reputation destruction.
“It’s amazing that if a guest has what they think is a bad meal, they can go to a website and create havoc with your business,” O’Connor explained. “Operators also need to be concerned with being trashed by a competitor. The anonymity of the Internet is one of the most dangerous threats. In addition, with events like the Equifax breach make it vital that an operator look at adding cyber liability coverage.”
O’Connor and his McGowan Hospitality team offer a free/no obligation consultation to Metro New York’s restaurant and hospitality operators. They can be reached via phone at 973-803-9011 or email at email@example.com to discuss active shooter, workplace violence insurance and cyber liability strategies.