Prior to 1993, Workers Compensation costs for restaurants and lodging were out of control and premiums were on the rise. A number of commercial insurance carriers had left the Arkansas Workers Compensation market due to losses and a claims system that had become dysfunctional.
In 1993, the Arkansas State Legislature made sweeping changes to the laws governing employee safety and Arkansas Workers Compensation laws. The laws enacted fundamentally changed the way that claims were handled and the basis for employee care and compensation. The new laws have been shown to be efficient and fair. Arkansas Workers Compensation laws are the envy of states that have not made such reforms.
One of the laws allowed associated businesses to form Workers Compensation Trusts to provide Workers Compensation coverage when they were sponsored by an affiliated trade association.
Arkansas Restaurant Association Workers Compensation Trust was formed in 1993 by a small group of restaurant owners and with the sponsorship of the Arkansas Hospitality Association. Two years later the Trust was expanded to include restaurants, hotels and resort properties across the state and was renamed the Arkansas Hospitality Workers Compensation Trust or AHWCT.
Self-insured trusts, like AHWCT, differ from traditional insurance companies in that they pool the premiums received from the businesses. Those resources are used to pay claims and administrative costs with all of the profits being returned to the members.
There are five hospitality industry representatives who make up the Board of Trustees of AHWCT. They meet five times a year and review monthly reports on the trust activities. They review all open claims and discuss treatment progress and options. They also discuss the financial aspects of the trust and make decisions on what rates to charge and what dividends to pay. They make decisions on how to keep rates competitive, review financial information and bank interest income, and how to maximize returns to its members. The decisions they make affect their business exactly the same way it affects the other members.
The current trustees are Gordon Gondek, Co-Owner of Dixie Restaurants; Dominic Flis, President of Flis Enterprises; Jim Shamburger, owner of Best Western Winners Circle Inn; Pati Brown, Lodge Manager of Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa; and Mary Beth Ringgold, owner of Capers, Cajun’s Wharf and Copper Grill. Gordon Gondek is Chairman of the AHWCT and a founding member. Each trustee serves for three years and is elected or re-elected by a vote of the membership at the annual meeting.
The Trust is dedicated to creating safe workplace environments, expedited claims reporting, exercising diligent and aggressive claims management for our members and providing the opportunity to save a considerable amount on the cost of Workers Compensation coverage. We do not accept all applicants and our members must meet certain qualifications. If you are a hospitality business owner who believes in safe operations and saving money, this program is for you.
Contact us to find out how this program can benefit you and your business.
Holly Heer – Director of Membership 501-376-2323 or 1-800-472-5022.
Jim Barnett – AHWCT Fund Manager 1-800-489-6465