In 2000, the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association began the program with Conrad Houston Insurance of Alaska, an Anchorage-based insurance company, in order to offer a workers' comp insurance policy to its members.
Conrad Houston Insurance works with Republic of Indemnity Company to offer the policy.
This year marks the third year that area business owners have received dividend payments, paying out to Lynn Canal businesses an average of $4000 - a 24 percent return on what they paid into the program. This year a total of 96 participating CHARR members statewide received $393,000 in dividends. Fifteen of those members are from the Lynn Canal area.
The Thomas family has owned the Triangle Club Bar since 1947. It is a small, historic, Juneau bar favored by locals. Leeann Thomas, current Triangle Club owner, said that, "the check couldn't have come at a better time."
She said that with the rising cost of workers' compensation, the slower winter season and tax time, the program has "definitely helped" her business and others like it.
CHARR's annual membership fee is $300, meaning the return from the program in many cases pays for their membership in the statewide trade association many times over.
Each organization pays a state mandated workers' compensation premium based on their individual risk.
The total premium paid into the program is evaluated for losses; after workers' comp claims are settled, a percentage is returned to business owners in the form of a dividend check.
"We are extremely excited about the program because it encourages safe business practices and safety awareness," said Conrad Houston Insurance Vice President Mike Dennis. "Businesses are seeing a direct benefit from providing safe work environments."
Dale Fox, President & CEO of CHARR, said that in a business environment in which bars and restaurants are closing their doors due to the rapidly escalating cost of workers' comp insurance, it is refreshing to be able to return a dividend.
"Our members are primarily small businesses, and for them, every dollar counts," Fox said.
"I love my job. To hundreds of Alaska business owners, I'm the guy who sends them money."
Alaska CHARR is a statewide organization providing the hospitality industry with the most comprehensive representation in the state, with affiliates established in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kodiak, Ketchikan, Juneau/Lynn Canal, Nome, Sitka and the Kenai Peninsula. For more information on Alaska CHARR please visit www.alaskacharr.com.
Conrad Houston Insurance of Alaska provides property, liability and workers' compensation insurance to Alaska businesses of all kinds, for more information please visit www.chialaska.com.