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Interesting Niches l Winery Insurance
With Jeff Ives, President—Ives Insurance Brokers
Ives Insurance is a second-generation brokerage that’s been operating in Essex since 1966. They’ve since expanded to six locations and have a number of specialty offerings including transportation, construction, hospitality, marina, manufacturing and wineries.
Tell us about your involvement with this specialty.
Our winery clientele is relatively focused in our main trading area in Southern Ontario. There are about 23 wineries in the region—we insure over half of them.
What are some of the unique challenges to insuring winery clients?
Understanding exactly what they do in their overall business can be difficult because it varies so much. Some have larger scale operations where they host weddings and events. Some simply sell their wine locally and others sell to the LCBO. Some ship globally, offer bike rentals for the wine trail, bottle wine for other wineries. So truly sitting with your client and understanding their operations is critical. And like all entrepreneurs, when they see an opportunity to add something to their business they move quickly, so you need to have great communication with one another.
What are some of the common claims issues wineries face?
There are the obvious risks of customers who attended a few tastings prior to visiting your winery which can lead to slip and falls on your property. The most important risk coverage is liability. Next is the product, whether that’s in the vineyard or in the tanks. A client that has a bottling operation and bottles their own product in addition to others risks exposure of product contamination—contamination and weather are the most frequent types of losses. Business Interruption and Consequential Loss are paramount.
What do you do to target this segment?
We communicate with wineries on a personal level, attend their functions, include them in our functions and sponsor what we can to help promote their products. We’re part of their association, we attend their training meetings and try to fully understand their businesses and concerns. We’re a small community within a relatively small region, housing a number of wineries that are close together.
How has the pandemic impacted this niche?
For the most part the actual sales of the product are up. On the downside, those locations that hold weddings, dinner banquets and events are all being severely impacted in that specific area of their business. We’ve moved to Stage 3 which is helping. The industry needs tourism to help wineries survive. We have some great wineries in Southern Ontario that win prestigious awards every year, so come and check them out.
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