March 09, 2007
In 2000, the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) 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 Ketchikan 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. Seven of those members are from the Ketchikan area.
Donna Luther with Sourdough Bar & Liquor has participated in the workmans' comp program since its inception. Luther, who is a CHARR board member at both the state and local level says, "The rates are great and the dividends are marvelous." The Sourdough Bar received almost a $2000 dividend.
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.
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