The Wall Street Journal headline could not have been any starker: “New York City Hotels Fear Raft of Closures Due to Coronavirus.”
While the focus of the reporting was on New York, hoteliers across the country have been experiencing the same fears – that a wave of closures is coming as the pandemic continues to hammer occupancy rates. In fact, many hotels have already shuttered and losses are in the billions of dollars.
According to the latest American Hotels and Lodging Association analysis, released in late summer, 65% of hotels were at or below 50% occupancy, below the level at which most can break even.
From an insurance standpoint, closed hotels, or even partially shuttered ones, can be at as much risk for damage as those still accepting guests. We’re talking about water damage, freezing pipes, fire, vandalism, mold, crime, vagrant issues, theft, and more.
What follows are eight steps hotel operators can take to help offset those risks.
1. Maintain security systems as if you were still fully operational. That means all fire protection systems, including automatic sprinklers, smoke alarms, security/burglar alarms, interior and exterior lighting, and even onsite guard services.
2. Ensure sprinkler systems are continuously monitored using a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure.
3. In colder climates, adjust the temperature to a minimum of 40°F, and have a monitoring system that provides notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre-determined number.
4. Insulate pipes most vulnerable to freezing with pipe insulation.
5. Continue regular building inspections and maintenance. This would include inspecting the roof for leaks, and repairing any weather-related damage.
6. Electrical, heat, and water utilities should be maintained to prevent weather conditions from damaging the facility. Unnecessary utilities, however, can be shut off such water heaters, internet and cable service.
7. Continue regular water-quality inspections for pools and ensure proper maintenance of pool equipment.
8. Maintain operation of any needed pumps, drainage pumps, and sump pumps.
There’s more on this, of course, but you get the picture. The work that goes into protecting your hotel property doesn’t change much whether you’re open or closed.
Brian Parks is the President of CCIG’s Commercial Lines department. Reach him at Brian.Parks@thinkccig.com or at 720-330-7923.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.