(Note: This story appears in the January 2023 issue of ED Magazine)

It’s not overstating it to say Pike Barber of Hospitality Insurance Agency lives for insurance. But that doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play for Pike and his wife and business partner, Staci.

As a third-generation insurance professional, Pike Barber has insurance coursing through his blood. “I was born to do this and I just naturally accepted the

role,” Barber says.

Barber’s grandfather launched Barber Agency which has morphed into Hospitality Insurance Agency (HIA) in 1948 when he had a one-day-a-week debit route where he would drive to customers’ houses and businesses to pick up their premium payments. Pike’s father then helped establish HIA as a community staple in Dunedin, Florida. By his senior year in college, Pike was already prepping for his career so he’d be “ready to work the day I got home from college.”

And that he did. Pike’s first hospitality account was Hyde Park Café in Tampa in 1995. Within nine months, Pike had accrued enough money for the down payment for his first home and was also able to settle all of his college bills.

“I would say since 1995 not much has changed and I am hugely thankful to all of my hospitality clients in my portfolio as they just keep buying and opening more venues for me to insure,” he says. “In addition, I am very appreciative for all the referrals and introduction that all my hospitality clients provide me. It is the greatest compliment for one of my clients to refer me to another hospitality owner as it touches my heart that my Hospitality Insurance Agency team is doing something right.

“Like I say in all the ACE meetings: I love both ACE and ED Publications,” Barber adds. “I love our industry, and most importantly, I love my clients.”

ED Publications spoke with Barber about his nearly 30 years in the industry ,including dos and don’ts for club owners, working with his wife Staci, and about his life’s passions — besides insurance, of course.

ED: What’s it like working with your wife Staci? How did you guys meet — was she already involved with insurance?

BARBER: Absolutely amazing, as Staci is brilliant. We met through her sister who was a friend and bartender at Club Prana (Tampa) which 20 years later we are still insuring.

She accidentally got into the insurance business by assisting my dad and I with a large undertaking of converting 15,000 accounts from an old proprietary Nationwide Insurance client management data platform to a new wave of the future agency management system. At this time, most of the Nationwide agents were paying short-term consultants $30K to convert these management systems. Staci had no problem with it and was engulfed into her new career of being a professional insurance agent. We have never looked back.

ED: How do you strike that balance between work and personal life? What’s the dynamic in the office like vs at home?

BARBER: Staci and I are like peanut butter and jelly — we just perfectly fit each other. We both wanted to have a successful personal life so we’ve brought in life and business coaches to help keep us on course and perfect our personal and professional lives. Staci is the back of the house and I am the front of the house. She handles all the hard problems which allows me the opportunity to shake hands, kiss babies and sign autographs. As smooth as we make it happen at the office, it’s the same at home.

ED: When you’re not in the office or working first-hand with a client, how do you (and Staci) enjoy spending your time? What are your favorite hobbies?

BARBER: I am always working even when I am on vacation as I cannot turn it off; but when I do slow myself down, we like to travel, go to concerts and attend house music events and festivals that we insure. Now that we have children ages 13 to 10 and our love of horses has been passed down through them, we are a full-time equestrian family where we load up twice a month and head to a hunters/jumpers equestrian shows from Florida to North Carolina. It makes for a nice family vacation revolving around a hobby we all love doing together.

“Staci and I are like peanut butter and jelly — we just perfectly fit each other. We both wanted to have a successful personal life so we’ve brought in life and business coaches to help keep us on course and perfect our personal and professional lives.” — Pike Barber

ED: Despite its extreme significance (especially in this industry), insurance can sometimes seem dry or intimidating — what tactics have you used that have helped make this subject matter more digestible and easy to comprehend?

BARBER: Insurance is definitely a necessary evil as all owners hate seeing that premium on their balance sheet, but for those that have ever had a claim, they were definitely glad they had it in a time of need. In the hospitality side of the insurance business it’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when. We are in the “when” business and it is our job to build your defense from the minute an incident happens. Our first line of defense is building our clients the right policy types and lines of coverages to protect them and their business.

Our second line of defense is building our clients a loss-control and risk-management program which we do so through Nightclub Security Consultants (nightclubsecurityconsultants.com). Every club owner that is reading this story has been severely fiscally impacted by the soaring cost of liability insurance premiums and this is not going to go away until these venues build their second line of defenses by implementing
an ongoing yearly loss control and risk management program. Don’t just do one training to get the course completion certificate to appease the insurance company for that policy term. The club owners need to get serious and build this second line of defense to help fight frivolous claims/suits, he-said-she-said incidents and the ridiculous claimant attorney letters that we receive on a weekly basis stating that the venues have no liquor liability protocols or training or that the venue had inadequate and untrained security.

The third line of defense that I am highly recommending is for all venues to have more than adequate video surveillance and more than a 30-day systems backup. From the moment an incident happens, club owners need to be more diligent in immediately archiving the altercation that occurred inside or outside of the venue. Pictures are worth a thousand words and with this third line of defense — along with both your second and first lines of defense — you will be better able to defend and or mitigate the cost of a claims payouts which at the end of the day saves your bottom line.

ED: What’s the strangest claim you’ve ever dealt with in the industry?

BARBER: You name it and we have seen it. From fires and or hurricanes where we have rebuilt the entire building and paid out on the loss of business income; from the overweight patron claiming that she blew out their knee when she stood up from a couch; the local homeless guy who picks up trash in your parking lot by his own will in hopes that you tip him for his next meal only to find out that he had a slip and fall and now has both workers compensation and liability suit against you; the employee that got fired who now has a workers compensation and an employee practice liability claim; and on and on and on.

ED: Is there an insurance-related question that shocked you, and if so, what was it?

BARBER: Yes, we have a recurring question every hurricane season and it is always after insurance binding has been suspended: can we purchase both wind and flood coverages? The answer is always the same, no, and on many occasions those same insureds wished they had purchased both of those coverages as one of my clients had a total loss during Hurricane Ian and against our recommendations the insured chose not to purchase wind and flood coverages. I know this type of coverages is expensive but in any coastal exposed states, any and all cub owners should have both of these coverages.

ED: Do you have a favorite band or music artist? Do you have a concert wish list?

BARBER: Since we insured a lot of music festivals we are blessed to see live music and DJ performances. We like it all from 80s bands (Depeche Mode) to country (Zac Brown Band) to DJs (Rufus Du Sol).

ED: Do you have a dream vacation destination? Or a personal favorite location you like to visit?

BARBER: Once a year, we like to hit a different European destination to see how the other half lives and experience their culture and traditions.

ED: What’s your most memorable industry-related experience?

BARBER: I love it all and our home office is in Tampa with our second office located in Las Vegas and the Gentlemen’s Club EXPO allows me to see clients that we insure all over the country — we have clients in every state. EXPO allows us the time to meet, catch up and get in our annual quality time.

For more information, visit hospitalityia.com.

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