Bar owners grappling with balloon insurance costs months after reopening – Kamloops News

Sydney Chisholm

Things aren’t the way they used to be in bars and nightclubs across Kamloops, and the COVID-19 pandemic is only partly to blame.

Nightclub owners, who are now facing rising insurance costs, say they have noticed a change in their clubs since they fully reopened earlier this year.

“It’s very different, people [are] much more respectful,” said Dino Bernardo, co-owner of the Commodore in Castanet Kamloops.

“It’s very different from what it was before – it’s not necessarily better or worse. It’s just that the narrative has changed a bit.”

Some in the industry say there was a decline in the popularity of nightclubs a few years before the pandemic hit, but Blue Grotto owner Pup Johnston says COVID-19 changed all that .

“Covid was like a shot in the arm for the industry. It was like we pressed a super reset button. And what’s happening now is we’re seeing people going out and enjoying clubs nightclubs that haven’t had one before,” Johnston said, adding that physical distancing meant people missed a crowded dance floor.

“They want love and touch, squeeze, you know? They want to meet strangers, they want the chance to meet someone, to share a dance floor with someone, even if you don’t dance together — you dance with your group of friends, I dance with my group of friends, at some point we’re going to turn around and there’s going to be high fives and all ‘groups are awesome’.

Despite the resurgence in popularity and the lifting of pandemic restrictions, nightclubs still face obstacles when it comes to managing and opening new venues.

“It’s hard to open a nightclub these days, really hard,” Johnston said.

“Like alcohol liability insurance is right next door. It’s ridiculous. It’s up 500% over COVID, and that really makes it cost prohibitive to open a new club – very, very cost prohibitive.

While Bernardo said the Commodore is doing well, he worries what the drastic increases in overhead will do to the industry, because it’s not just insurance that’s gone up.

“There would be shortages in the supply chain of certain liquors that we can’t get sometimes, the cost of fruit for drinks has increased significantly,” he explained.

“I’m scared, you know, that’s what we’re going through now. What will it look like in five months, six months, a year? Will that change? Or will it get worse?”

But on the other hand, owners can only raise prices so much before customers are willing to pay it, Bernardo said.

“Our prices have been similar to what they always have been, even when we reopened,” the Commodore owner said.

“There was a marginal increase, but it was just that the cost of insurance skyrocketed and we have to make up for that.”

The cost of alcohol liability has more than tripled in recent years, and a major contributing factor to the inflated price is the fact that many insurance companies have pulled out of the alcohol game.

“There are many providers around the world that offer alcohol liability, but not as many as before,” Paul Ross, broker at Emsland Insurance, told Castanet Kamloops.

“I think it has to do with risk and with our litigious society and people suing for many different things. Insurance companies have therefore decided not to consider this as the risks they must defend. »

He added that on top of that, insurance companies were still trying to recover from the pandemic’s hit to the economy.

“We also had what is called a tough market in the insurance industry. It’s been three years since the insurance companies have been really correcting what’s going on,” he explained.

“We also have more and more people who want to sue in Canada, which creates more costs, we have social inflation, which relates to you know … the law of people — they get drunk and they slip by land, and they want to sue the owner, the tenant, the city [and] again and again. Our society and habits have therefore definitely changed, as has our general orientation, which negatively affects insurance companies.

Soaring insurance costs could cause some bars to close and deter other potential owners from entering the industry, Ross said.

“I think what would happen is that the cost would be prohibitive. I mean, that’s what’s happening now,” Ross said.

“The cost of this equipment is so prohibitive. How can a small business survive spending so much money on insurance? So, in essence, he may have already done so.

Ross said the potential solution is quite simple.

“Take more responsibility for your own actions,” he said.

About James K. Bonnette

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