"I have worked hand in hand with business owners and understand that protecting the assets they have worked long and hard to acquire are a top priority," says independent agent Denise Byarley. "Our agency feels that the restaurant market, even in rural areas, is a must for our clients as we strive to be a well-rounded insurance agency."
Shelly Davidson and Denise Byarley
Partners Insurance Agency, LLC
How did you get started at your agency?
Shelly Davidson: Myself (pictured right) and co-owner Denise Byarley (pictured left) have over 20 years' experience in the insurance industry. We both began our careers at Terry L. Ford Insurance Agency at almost the exact same time. In January 2015 the owner, Mr. Ford, decided to retire from the business. Without hesitation, Denise and I purchased the agency, wanting to continue to provide insurance services to our long-time clients as well as new clients. We have continued the business under Partners Insurance Agency since and take pride in helping those in and around our community by providing the service they deserve with industry leading carriers.
Why restaurant insurance?
Denise Byarley: Our agency, located in rural Crittenden County, has had the opportunity to provide competitive insurance products to several restaurants in the area. I have worked hand in hand with business owners and understand that protecting the assets they have worked long and hard to acquire are a top priority. Our agency feels that the restaurant market, even in rural areas, is a must for our clients as we strive to be a well-rounded insurance agency.
Biggest changes in the restaurant insurance industry?
SD: As with any insurance product, when rates increase concerns for restaurant owners also rise. With the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants have taken a large hit financially and some are struggling to rebound as they are still under limitations. Rates continue to rise and the potential for smaller restaurants to survive may be a challenge.
DB: Some of the biggest challenges when dealing with restaurant owners will be getting owners to purchase adequate insurance due to premium rates. With premiums rising, owners may be more apt to purchase insurance for the price not the coverage. Another concern will be the availability of markets as carriers evaluate the markets they are in.
SD: The pandemic has changed so many things, including insurance. We are already hearing carriers will be asking more detailed underwriting information. We are also noticing that after the numerous shut-downs and layoffs due to the pandemic, employee safety and employee benefits have evolved—exposures for discrimination and breach of employees privacy are just a couple of items we believe you will see come into play on restaurant coverage.
Advice for a fellow agent regarding restaurant insurance?
DB: An insurance agent and a restaurant owner are alike in some ways: We depend on people to buy our product. Consumers have the same choice to come to our agency and buy our insurance product as they do to go into a local restaurant to eat. It's all about great service. If you receive great service at a restaurant, you are more than likely to go back again. It is the same with an insurance agency—we pride ourselves in great customer service. The restaurant owner trusts you to provide them the coverage they need so they can continue to serve their community. They never forget the way you made them feel, good or bad.
Favorite success story regarding restaurant insurance?
DB: Insurance companies have their set of underwriting rules and sometimes are unwilling to write an account based on just one factor. My client has a restaurant and has been in the restaurant business for almost 20 years. Their current restaurant was insured with a specific insurance carrier, and when they started a new restaurant under a new entity name they wanted to insure the new restaurant with them as well. The insurer did not want to write the account because they rated the new entity as a new start-up. I knew my client and their experience in the restaurant industry and I was unwilling to take “no" as an answer from the insurance company. I just kept climbing the chain of command until I found someone willing to listen and was able to write the account successfully.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.