by Leo Jakobson | March 07, 2018

Before Wayne Robinson visits a hotel that he is considering as the site of a meeting for insurance firm FM Global, there is an item high on his checklist that many planners don't even ask about: the size and quality of the sprinkler system. That's not to say that aspects like the amount of available meeting space and the size of the room block are not vital, but onsite sprinklers are on the list of non-negotiable items a venue has to have on its emergency plan to be considered as a site for the firm's meetings, says Robinson, CMP, CMM, and assistant vice president of FM Global, as well as chair-elect of the Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) board.

FM Global's Wayne Robinson says
his attendees demand sprinklers

"I'll look at all the things like, is it a five-star, five-diamond property? Do I have enough meeting space? Is it going to generate the 'wow' factor? But then on top of that, I've got to make sure every sleeping room and meeting space has sprinklers, and an egress," he explains. "I've got to make sure that the destination itself is not in a flood zone, that there is not exposure to Mother Nature based on the time of year the meeting's being held. Those are other things I would put in my toolbox as well. Especially for a commercial property insurance company such as ours. Probably a third of the company, I would say, are engineers. Their job is to assess risk. I am absolutely going to be asked these questions by the attendees. It's the line of business we are in, it's just a whole different approach."

Which isn't to say that the vast majority of planners don't ask about fire safety plans. It's just that for companies like insurers and financial institutions, risk assessment is more than just an issue of potential concern -- it is their stock-in-trade. And they have access to in-house experts that few other planners have.

Practicing What They Preach
At Crump Life Insurance Services, risk assessment is called "business continuity planning," says Sherri Lindenberg, senior vice president, marketing communications, and a member of the board of FICP.

Sherri Lindenberg
of Crump Life Insurance Services

"We actually go through mandatory companywide training on an annual basis and each year we have a mock drill in which employees have to work through some scenarios together," she says. These can be weather-related, or something medical like a pandemic. Departments and teams will get together with workbooks and webinars to go through it and how they would respond, she adds.

"We're an insurance brokerage company that's owned by a bank," Lindenberg points out. "It's very much a part of the bank's culture, and it was our culture before becoming part of the bank. It is a big part of what we do. We're supposed to be minimizing the risk in other people's lives, and we need to make sure that we're taking all those precautions ourselves."