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BYou might be surprised to find out that a breweriesy havehas more risks and exposure than a typical restaurant or bar. What’s more surprising is that your insurance policy might not know the difference…and then you’re stuck with a large batch of contaminated beer and nothing to sell.

Coverage should protect your brewery and the beer. Don’t lose money on the craft you love from unique circumstances even your insurance agent couldn’t predict.

In this episode, Mike Wagner, a brewery insurance expert, reveals the biggest mistakes a brewer makes in buying insurance today and how to protect your craft from unique financial losses tomorrow.

Show highlights include:

  • Why breweries are overlooked in the world of business insurance – and the coverage that instantly saves you money. (0:22)
  • The best time to purchase coverage and what your policy needs tofor preserveing the brewing process and your equipment today. (6:15)
  • The questions to ask an insurance agent that will protect your brewery and land the best price possible. (9:34)
  • What COVID-19 reveals about insurance policies and protecting your craft from future risks. (13:48)

If you enjoyed today’s show, make sure you head on over to www.tapsandtees.info and download your free report of ‘No BS,’ game-changing marketing tips and strategies that show you how to blow up your brand online.

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You are listening to the Taps and Tees Show, weekly conversations for people passionate about marketing, golf and craft beer. Marty is the cofounder of Bad Rhino, an award-winning digital marketing agency helping golf and craft beer brands get real results in social media marketing. Here is your host, Marty McDonald. [00:21.7]

Marty: Hey everybody welcome back to another episode of Taps and Tees. This is Marty McDonald and I want to bring to you a guest today in the brewery world that I think is one of the most important, and I got to know this guy through a couple of meetings here in PA, and a lot of drinking. We will just say it. There was a lot of drinking going on and some good times, but one thing I really, really, really like about him and he actually got our insurance at Bad Rhino, my company, cause he's super knowledgeable about a lot of little things. And I think one of the things, when you talk about insurances, you kind of get your eyes glaze over. Okay, what type of insurance do I need? What do I need to do with this? What do I need to do with that? Your, you just kind of go, okay, do whatever. And Mike actually walked me through a couple of things. I just didn't realize that we didn't have in our own insurance. And he's like, Hey man, I'll take a look. And it was great because he took a look, guide everything in line. And I was like, dude, this is great. Plus, he saved me money, which is always a bonus when you're dealing with insurance and I got better coverage. So, he looked at some of the finer things. And I think in the brewery world, this is a key thing in any business, honestly. But I think in the brewery world is very key with everything else that's going on in the world. You want to make sure your insurance is airtight. So today we're going to chat a little bit with Mike Wagner from Blue Marsh Insurance. Mike, are you there? [01:42.0]

Mike: I am here. And after that intro, Wow, do I even need to say anything?

Marty: Well, I think you should tell everybody a little bit about yourself.

Mike: Yeah. So, Marty, first off, thanks for having us on. I really you know, have a great relationship with Marty. You got to meet him again at some functions through the brewers of PA and yes, there have been a lot of a lot of beers drank and, and a lot of good times. But so, I, I head up the Brewery Insurance division of Blue Marsh Insurance. I'm on the Vice-President here. And about two years ago, the agency decided to jump two feet in the pool with the brewing industry. And we joined the brewers of PA and, and really have focused on building out the niche for brewery insurance, some exciting news coming up. We're actually launching brewerinsured.com, which is going to be a separate website basically a division of Blue Marsh, which is going to be very focused only to brewing, you know, with having blogs and blogs and things like that relating to brewery and brewery insurance. So that's kind of a little 32nd commercial and I'll throw it back to you Marty. [02:51.0]

Marty: Thanks Mike. Yeah, I think putting it in there, we won't mention any specific incidents around some fun times. There was a glass broken one time, but we won't talk about anything of that.

Mike: Oh wow.

Marty: I know we won't talk about any of that, but it was a good time. Mike is a, you know, a really personable guy, which I love. Nut Mike, just before we move into some other questions, because people listen to this all over the country, amazingly, I'm not just in PA what areas do you do you guys support just around the country?

Mike: Yeah. So, you're looking more for like our footprint.

Marty: Yup.

Mike: Yeah. So, our footprint currently is especially on the brewery side is we're rolling out and we can talk a little bit more on what we've got going on, but we're rolling out a program in, in, you know, in Pennsylvania, which hopefully will be scalable to New Jersey Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, DC. So right now, I would say the Mid-Atlantic States with obviously you know, hopefully scalability to some point where you know, we could take it nationwide. [03:50.5]

Marty: Cool. Yeah, I just want to clear on that, just so that we have everybody on the same page while they listen to this. And I think if you're in another state that Mike's not covering right now, a lot of this stuff that we're going to talk about just really high level or stuff that you want to take a look at. So, you know, you can talk to your own insurance if you're out in California, in Arizona, Florida, etc. The one thing I'm always impressed upon when I talked to Mike, when he tells me the stories about a brewery that started say three years ago and what they did. So, Mike, what are the common mistakes that breweries make when they're starting out with insurance? [04:25.3]

Mike: Yeah, so, you know, the, the biggest thing we find Marty is that you know, a lot of insurance agents don't really understand how to insure a brewery. You know, they think it's a restaurant, but it's not quite a restaurant. They think it's a bar, but it's not quite a bar. So, you know, what we've tried to do is it's kinda like, you know acquainted to medicine real quick. You know, if you have chest pain, Marty, you go to your family doctor and be like, Hey, I have chest pain. You know, what can I do or you can go to a cardiologist that specializes in it and, you know, get a better diagnosis, you know, hopefully from the cardiologists than you would from your family doctor. Well, we look at brewery insurance that way, you know, you could go to your cousin or your uncle and they could probably try to help you out. It may or may not be correct, or you could come to us and we're more of the cardiologists when it comes to, to to brewery insurance. So, there are a lot of mistakes that are made. You know, and, and it's, it's funny, Marty, a lot of the common mistakes or mistakes that are made on insurance across all, you know, all industries and all, all classes of business. So, we, we try to, you know, we try to address that by going in and, and, and, you know, taking a look at what you have now and giving you that professional second opinion, you know, what you would hate is you know, I, I won't mention exact names. We worked on a brewery up in Erie where, you know, had how you'd had a fire at his building. He pretty much would have had to hang a close sign and you would have never been able to back up again. [05:51.7]

Marty: So, like other than hiring, like, you know, your little brother, to do your insurance, right. When they open up, like you said, some people say, Oh, they think it's the same as a restaurant. They think it's the same as a bar, but it's not, what are some of the little nuances, if you were talking to say somebody that wanted to open up a brewery? What were the things that you would just say, Hey, these have to be on your checklist and make sure you're covered here, here and here? [06:14.1]

Mike: Yeah. So, it's actually kind of funny on Tuesday, I was actually visiting a startup in Horsham and we'd actually talked about this, you know, he was questioning, Hey, you know, what do I need? And, you know, when I sat down with him, he was actually already behind the eight ball because he had all this equipment in the building and currently no coverage for any of the equipment that he was installing. You know, they had made changes to the building with drains and things like that. And essentially if you'd have fire right now, you know, he'd be out of pretty good capital investments. So that's number one is that you got to kind of get insurance while you're a brewery in planning before you actually start brewing any beer. And once you to start brewing beer, I mean, the, the main issues is obviously there was a property issue for all your equipment and your supplies and things like that. [07:07.5]

There's a liability exposure Marty where, you know, you have somebody slip and fall inside the property. We all have those exposures, but then in Pennsylvania you also have a liquor exposure. Obviously when you're serving alcohol, you can get pulled into suits, Pennsylvania doesn't have the exact friendliest liquor liability laws. So that's an important feature. But if we, if we dive into it, what I've just described to you as essentially a restaurant or a bar where breweries tend to miss things are, are, you know, coverages specific to brewing, contamination to your product, selling price of your product, if a tag collapse or leaks, you know, what happens to that spilled good. And those are the things that we try to point out that, you know, okay, Hey, you know, yeah, you've got, you know, you've got certain coverage, but you don't have the ones that are truly industry specific to brewing. [07:59.5]

Marty: What do you think when breweries do set that up, right, whatever stage they're in and not trying to disparage anybody in the industry or anything people selling insurance, but why do they think they miss that when they, you know, breweries are a little bit different than the bars and the restaurants, why do they just skip over that? Is it because of it's expensive or?

Mike: So, I, I really think Marty, the unfortunate thing is and it's fortunate for me because it gives me great job security. Is the unfortunate thing, there's a lot of agents out there that really don't know how to handle writing a brewery, nor understand the coverages that entail, you know, the, the, that you really need it to kind of, you know, create that you know, protective barrier around brewery is they don't understand the coverages. They don't know what to ask for. They really don't even know which coverages are important. And unfortunately, you do have a lot of buyers that the biggest thing that they want to buy on is price. [08:56.0]

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Mike: And, you know, I can give you, I can give you a great price in crap coverage, or I could give you a competitive price and give you coverage that gives you that peace of mind, like the brewery in Erie now that that is now a customer understands. Yeah, you know, it might be, you know, a 100, 200, $300 more a year, but at the end of the day, if my business burns, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be able to open back up.

Marty: Right.

Mike: You know and yeah, but I think a lot of it does come down, you know, it does come down to the agents, not knowing. And then conversely, on the brewery side, a lot of the guys do buy on price. [09:33.6]

Marty: Yeah. You think in terms of the price that they just don't know so they say, okay, this is, you know, $10,000 policy a year or whatever the cost is, just throwing a number out there. Hey, this looks kind of similar for 5,000. They just don't know. Or is it something a little bit weirder than that?

Mike: No, I think that's exactly right. I mean

Marty: Gotcha.

Mike: Let's be real. I mean, I think, you know, in what you do, Marty, you're, you're an expert in what you do. You're not trying to be an expert insurance agent. So, if you see.

Marty: Right.

Mike: Two policies and they both have liability, you know, one is half the price of the other, you know, most people would just be like, Hey, you know, it's, it's 5,000 bucks cheaper. Let's just go without, without asking the question, why is it 5,000 bucks cheaper? So yeah. Yeah, I think that's, you know, that's more or less. Look, I mean, you know, I, I made that mistake when I was you know, with my personal life is we remodeled my basement and I took the lowest bid and it looks like I took the lowest bid. [10:34.3]

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Mike: You know, when I finished my basement. So, you know, cheaper is not always better, especially when it could potentially sacrifice everything you've worked for.

Marty: Yeah. I definitely, I think from personal and like I said, at the beginning of this podcast, full disclosure, Mike does our insurance at Bad Rhino, which is my agency. And, you know, I think the, the unique part was I'm like, dude, I don't think I need this much or whatever. And he ended up getting me better insurance at a better price across the board. And it was just little nuances like, I didn't know how to ask those questions. And I think whether you're whatever business you're in, but especially in the brewery, this ask your agent, like what, what do I need? And, you know, make sure I'm covered and even think about the catastrophic stuff, even though you don't like to talk about, it's like, you know, buying life insurance and then you're like, Oh, I need it, but you don't want to really get into the nitty gritty of it. And then you might forget, you know, something like disability insurance, which is just as important, if you know God forbid something happens. [11:35.3]

Hey, if you're enjoying what you're hearing on the show and want more, head on over to TapsAndTees.info and get our free report with game-changing tips and strategies straight to your inbox. Just enter your info and stop being stuck with no marketing plan. [11:48.5]

Marty: So, like even though if you're uncomfortable with it, make sure you look at that and you know, you're in the areas where Blue Marsh, you know, works, you know, reach out to them because I think it's very important. And every time I talked to a brewer, which is quite often, especially, you know, over the last few months with a winding down, hopefully of COVID and all that, but they're always talking about like revamping everything else that they have because they saw different things. Insurance should be one of those things on your list. I mean, Mike can probably tell you horror stories. I just know of a few. And I think that's why I've had people that are in the insurance business on this podcast, cause it's something that comes up all the time, especially if you're a brewer and planning, make sure you get that done. So, Mike, just over you know, the past year with COVID and everything, how has that changed your business just working with breweries? [12:36.2]

Mike: Yeah. So obviously COVID has been a challenge, especially in the beginning, basically having to do everything via phone call via Zoom. That obviously was a challenge. I probably have been back to work Marty since like July of last year. And you know, it really goes down to the individual brewery on how comfortable they are. I've I've visited some, you know, we've masked up or what have you. And, and you know, things have been able to get done. I see it starting to open back up, you know, we discussed before the podcast. I think we're probably going to have one of our best years. And a lot of it is, you know, people were starting to feel a little more comfortable with, you know, one-to-one interaction that, that I think we lacked last year. So yeah, I mean that obviously was a huge a huge hurdle and, and on the insurance, I mean, let's be real, you know talking to some brewers there, you know, their worry was, Hey, you know, crap, I need to get my PPP loans. I'm not really looking at switching my insurance right now because it's on the bottom of my list because of all this other stuff that I've got to get accomplished to stay in business. [13:43.7]

Marty: Absolutely. Did anybody reach out just because they're like pandemic, do I need to have something different? My insurance moving forward?

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, so for sure, man, I mean, not just breweries, but pretty much customers all across the spectrum. One of the biggest questions we got was, Hey, you know, is there insurance coverage because the government shut us down because of this pandemic. And the sad answer, Marty was that almost all insurance policies have this nasty thing, which says we're not going to pay any claims in reference to viruses, bacteria and things like that. So, I expect that to change going forward. I expect you to be able to buy some type of we'll call it, plague insurance. That being said, I don't think it's going to be cheap. I think it is something that's going to come with a price. [14:30.7]

Marty: Sure.

Mike: But yeah, we got a lot, a lot of those phone calls, especially in the beginning of COVID when the shutdowns were, were really fresh and you know, there wasn't a whole lot of you know, companies doing like, like starting the outdoor seating and things like that. You know, talking to some of the brewers, obviously they they were able to kind of, you know, you know, stem the tide by going to outdoor seating by, you know, if you had a canning line by switching to distribution instead of taproom sales. So, it's been neat to see, you know, how these breweries have overcome the challenges. [15:03.3]

Marty: Yeah, no, a 100% How did you get into you know, working with breweries?

Mike: Other than the fact that I love to drink beer.

Marty: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: Well, you know, the craft brewery Marty,the craft brewery industry has just been, you know, booming as, as you know, you you've been in it longer than me Marty with craft beer. I mean, you know, the craft brewing industry has just been booming. And the funny thing is, is when we looked at it, we didn't see a whole lot of programs out there, a whole lot of expertise. So, it, it seemed to be a pretty smart fit, you know, and, and don't get me wrong. I'm, I'm never going to really, you know, turn up an opportunity to have a pint or two. So that's kind of what got us in. I mean you know, if I can give a ten second commercial, I would say, you know, just, you know, keep an eye out for some pretty exciting stuff happening with Blue Marsh and the brewers of Pennsylvania. [15:55.6]

Marty: Absolutely. You can put a commercial in here and that's fine. Tell me a little bit about like, you know, your favorite beer. I usually talk about styles of beer because then this way we don't have to mention any breweries, but if you want to mention a few breweries, it's cool. I try and stay away from that. Cause I actually, like I said, like, people actually listen to this and it blows my mind.

Mike: Yeah.

Marty: But then I got, I got an email from somebody and it was like, Hey, you mentioned this beer. I won't say what it is, but if you go back a few episodes, you can definitely see when I talk about it. And then they just emailed me in and it was all lighthearted fun. And they're like, why didn't you mention my beer? So anyway.

Mike: Well, yeah, I'm, I'm gonna stay out of that. I'm going to stay out of that shark tank. Oh talking about favorite style of beer, you know, I've been drinking beer for, you know, for a long time. We'll just put it that way. I don't know what the statute of limitations is on underage drinking.

Marty: Right. [16:55.3]

Mike: But no, but you know, favorite style of beer right now, I mean, it's kind of funny, I think your, your palate and your, your, you know, your, your likes change over time. I mean, I, you know, I would definitely say, you know love the, you know, the IPA's, but also, I mean, like I was at a brewery on Tuesday and had a really great ESB.

Marty: Right.

Mike: So, I'm pretty much you know, I'm one of those people, the only thing I really don't like Marty, and please don't kill me, burrs that hear this and absolutely love the style. I'm just not a big wheat diet. Other, other than, than wheat though, there's not a ton that I don't like, you know, IPA's, I've, I've grown to love some sours, which, you know, if you'd asked me two years ago, I'd have been like, these sours are terrible.

Marty: Right.

Mike: But it's being how you're, like I said, I think your palate matures and you're, you know, you, you have a certain style of beer that you thought was not that great before is now, you know, one your favorites.

Marty: Yeah.

Mike: So yeah. But now everything loggers pilsners, man, you know, whiskey. Oh, it was a brewery podcast by then. [17:56.3]

Marty: Right. Yeah. It's crazy. Like, I mean, I think, you know, my thing is with that and when I talk about like styles of beer, I love IPA's, I slowly can't drink as many anymore, but I think it's like the clean IPA's I can drink a ton of like West coast. Like I can, I can drink that. Anything, it starts to get hazy anymore, it just doesn't work for me. Right. And you know, it's kind of funny and it's like, I love all the pilsners that are coming out now. And the loggers that to me has been exciting because it's just different, different spin on some really good styles of beer in my opinion, that you can sit around and drink more than two or three, right. [18:36.7]

Mike: Yeah. For sure. And it's funny, you know, you don't blame the brewers though, because it ruined what, you know what I mean.

Marty: It sells.

Mike: Yeah. I mean so, you got that whole generation that just is in love with the whole milkshake IPA's and you know, hazy, juicy, you know IPA's but yeah. I'm like you, man. I mean, I like the, you know, the cleaner, IPA's look, I'll mention a non-PA beer, you know, I go back to just like, you know, drinking, like a, you know, like a Sierra, Nevada. I love that style of the, you know, the West coast IPA.

Marty: Right.

Mike: And craft beer drinkers I'm just bringing it up. Cause I'm not going to mention a craft brewery in Pennsylvania.

Marty: Yeah, no, I think, and I think those things are interesting to see like the evolution, you know, I've like been in this for seven years is supporting and working with brewery. So, it's very fascinating to watch the evolution from 2014 through 2021. As far as that, Mike, like, what's like the best beer trip you went on outside of PA because I know you do a lot of business there. What's like the one brewery that you hit outside of Pennsylvania that you were like, Holy crap, this is really good. [19:45.1]

Mike: Yeah. So, my son is, is in the United States army stationed out in Colorado Springs. And my wife and I for our anniversary, went out to visit him and spend some time with him. And we, and, and based on a recommendation from what our current craft brew customers, we, we hit a place in Colorado Springs called Trinity Brewing Company. They won a bunch of GABF stuff. And they had some fantastic beers. I mean, they had a, I think it was a triple, you know, it was probably like 16%, but it was so crushable I'm thinking I could like easily pass out and you know, wouldn't even know it because it was so crushable for me with a high ABV. But yeah, shout out to Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. That that's probably, I mean, you know, you got the Rockies there it's beautiful scenery and the beer was, was crushable. [20:37.0]

Marty: Yup. That's awesome. In terms of that, like, what's like the all-time favorite, like you just had one and you're like, Oh my gosh can drink this all the time. Or it just was different than what you thought it would be? So that one beer.

Mike: One, you, you want me to go name here?

Marty: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Mike: So, okay. I, I, for the rest of my, my PA brewery customers, please don't don't.

Marty: I can put you on the spot now.

Mike: Please don’t crucify me on this, but if Jason Labrie is listening in, I could literally sit and drink like a case of Bulacan every day.

Marty: Yeah.

Mike: All day long. I mean.

Marty: That’s a good beer.

Mike: Super crushable. I mean so a shout out to Jason and his team cause they do a great, a great job. And that's, that's one of my, my all-time favorite, you know, like after I had one, I'm like.

Marty: Yeah.

Mike: Let me bring a case of these. [21:30.6]

Marty: Actually, I have the t-shirt from there when I went out there and visited him from that to you, I was just like, yeah, I need this cause I want people to ask about it and you don't get, you know, any of that beer on the side of the state where we are on the East side.

Mike Yeah. It's been interesting how many people have started to ship them.

Marty: Yup.

Mike: So, it's pretty cool. Like, you know, we can start to start to get some stuff from the Western part of PA, you know, guys, we are located in the Eastern part of Pennsylvania or Central Pennsylvania. So, to get stuff from Pittsburgh used to be a challenge. It's neat to see a lot of them starting to ship.

Marty: Absolutely. Mike, where can everybody find you online? How do they get in touch with you if they need you? [22:04.9]

Mike: Yeah. So, give me give you our little commercials. So, we're still under Blue Marsh insurance for now. We're going to be launching a website called brewerinsured.com. That should be live, hopefully in the next month. We've got a great program right now with the brewers of PA where for, you know, if you were with, if you're with Blue Marsh and with the brewers of PA we have a safety group where essentially you can earn 40% of your workers' compensation premium back in a dividend. So that's kind of what we just launched, man. We're excited to see, you know, what happens, but you know, at the end of the day, if I can go back and give a brewer 40% of his annual premium back, because they want to focus on being safe. It's a win-win for everybody. [22:48.1]

Marty: Hmm…absolutely cool. Well, Mike, I appreciate you coming on. And you know, on all of these things here at Taps and Tees, what we try and do is bring people some education more than anything. We have like, I keep promising every time I put one of these out here, it's just been an odd year. We have some much more fun stuff. We've got a couple of golf things coming out in the next few days and you'll see those. And we do have the fun ones coming. So, everybody, I appreciate you listening. It's always amazing to see this little podcast keep growing. So, I appreciate that. Mike, thanks for coming on and look forward to talking down the road for sure and sharing a couple of beers.

Mike: Yeah. Thanks for having me on Marty and I definitely look forward to it, get together and having a beer. [23:31.2]

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