Restaurants face a lot of risks when it comes to liability. Serving food and alcohol presents danger in many ways, from food poisoning to drunk drivers causing an accident. That’s why it’s so important for restaurants to have the right insurance. But do bartenders also need insurance?
Bartenders can be patrons’ best friends. They hand out drinks and have more opportunity to chat easily with their guests than most servers on the floor. But being a bartender also comes with a massive amount of risk. Overserving a guest can lead to public intoxication, drunk driving, crashes, etc. Bartenders who overserve can be fired or even sued. This is true for bartenders working in a restaurant and private bartenders for hire.
While bartenders aren’t required by law to carry liquor liability insurance, it can help cover for hefty legal expenses.
Say you’re working a private event. One man has been at the bar practically the entire night, chatting and drinking. He’s only had two glasses of rum and Coke, but you haven’t seen him swiping others’ drinks and taking shots with some of the other guests. Around eleven at night, he’s slurring his words, but otherwise seems fine. You encourage him to sit down and eat something, but the guest waves you away and leaves. Several guests come up to the bar then to grab last minute drinks and you lose sight of the man. Once he leaves, he gets into his car and takes off down the road, going sixty in a forty and swerving. The man crashes into another car, killing the other driver. When you wake up the next day, you receive a gut-dropping notification that the victim of the drunk driver has filed a lawsuit against you. Not only is your name now tarnished, you’re also facing thousands of dollars in legal fees you can’t afford. This is where liquor liability insurance steps in.
What Does Liquor Liability Not Cover?
Liquor liability insurance for restaurants or bartenders typically won’t cover reckless behavior on behalf of the staff. If a bartender knowingly overserves a drunk patron, doesn’t check IDs and serves alcohol to a minor or commits another reckless mistake, an insurance company is likely to reject the claim.
Tips to Prevent a Liquor Liability Lawsuit
- Measure pours accurately
- Check IDs carefully. If it’s an out of state license, run it by your manager to make sure it’s valid
- Call an Uber, Lyft or cab for patrons who have been drinking
- Offer plenty of food and water between drinks
- Cut off patrons who are becoming unruly or drunk. You’re well within your rights to stop serving a patron alcohol if it seems like they’ve reached their limit and might cause harm to themselves or others
- For restaurants and bars, be sure to offer food and non-alcoholic beverages
- Vet and train bartenders on the appropriate handling and serving of alcohol
How Much Does Liquor Liability Insurance Cost?
For restaurants and bars, owners don’t have to purchase liquor liability insurance for every single bartender. One policy covers the building and its employees working during business hours. Coverage amounts for liquor liability typically work by the millions. A restaurant may pay between $650 and $1500 a year for a $1 million liquor liability policy. Bars and taverns cost more to insure at $900-$2500 a year. Caterers may pay in between at around $700-$2000 a year.
Is Liquor Liability Insurance Required for Bartenders?
There is no US law that dictates restaurants or bartenders must carry liquor liability insurance. Some states do have liability insurance requirements for restaurants and bars to receive and maintain a liquor license, however.