It will soon be that time of year when many businesses will offer their employees a chance to celebrate the season with a holiday party. At some of these parties, alcohol will be served, and, as we all know, too much alcohol can make people do crazy things!
But how much is too much alcohol?
The answer to that question is entirely different if you’re talking about a 110-pound woman who hasn’t eaten all day and a 210-pound man who has been eating from the buffet for hours.
Be Careful - You Can Be Held Liable
What happens if one of your employees drinks too much and gets into a car accident on the way home? What if a vendor who stopped by your party drinks too much and breaks a leg falling down your steps? What if one of your managers drinks too much and gets into a physical altercation with a colleague?
The truth is that your business could be held liable or responsible because you served him or her too much alcohol. That means that you might have to pay for damages to your employee’s car and the car he hit, plus any injuries. That means that you may have to pay for your vendor’s medical expenses. And it means you could be sued for any injuries sustained in the altercation. That's where liquor liability insurance comes in, but more about that later.
Dram Shop Laws Also Apply to Private Events
Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that have Dram Shop Laws. That law states that any business or individual that serves alcohol in any form – wine, beer, spirits - to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the serving of alcoholic beverages. This law applies to not only businesses like bars and restaurants that are in the business of selling alcohol, but also to businesses that provide alcohol at private events. It can also apply to a business giving alcoholic beverages as gifts to clients, vendors, or employees.
Liquor Liability Insurance
The good news is that there is a way to protect your business: Liquor Liability Insurance. This insurance won’t keep you from getting sued, but it will help cover the cost of your legal defense and any settlements you may be required to pay if you are sued.
Host Liquor Liability Insurance
While businesses with a liquor license are required to have Liquor Liability Insurance as part of their restaurant insurance coverage, Host Liquor Liability Insurance protects businesses that don't manufacture, serve, or sell alcohol from liquor-related lawsuits. It helps protect companies that host social events where alcohol is served, and it is often included in your Commercial General Liability policy.
Host Liquor Liability coverage under your general liability policy may not cover you if you are negligent in any way such as serving alcohol to a minor or violating ordinances and regulations related to the distribution of alcohol.
How to Reduce Liability Exposure
You can also reduce your liability exposure by either not allowing alcohol at business events or if alcohol is allowed, practicing responsible behaviors. Here are a few tips to reduce your liability exposure:
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages
- Serve food
- Consider hosting your party at a venue – like a restaurant or bar – that has a liquor license
- Hire a professional bartender who can recognize the signs of intoxication
- Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who shouldn’t drive
- Stop serving alcohol well before the time the party is scheduled to end
- DO NOT charge employees for alcoholic beverages because then you are technically in the business of selling alcohol and all the implications that go with it.
Get the Right Insurance Protection - Contact Us Today
If you decide to serve alcohol at your next business function, check your commercial general liability policy to make sure that it provides coverage for liquor liability.
To protect your business from liability, give the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. You'll get great insurance protection at a great price. Contact us today to get started.