If you’ve served liquor at your restaurant, catering company, or company party, you may have at least one liquor liability horror story. Where there’s alcohol, there’s bound to be someone who parties a little too hard. And when a drunk person gets out of hand, they could end up hurting themselves and others. This could cause big liability issues for your business.
If you have liquor liability insurance for your business, these bodily injuries and property damage can be taken care of. However, as important as it is to have coverage for liquor liability incidents, it’s just as important to know how to prevent these mishaps in the first place. Here are 7 tips on how to reduce your chance of liquor liability before anything serious happens.
First of all, what is liquor liability?
Put simply, liquor liability is the responsibility you have as the owner, operator, or manager of a building that serves, provides, or allows alcohol on your premises. This also means that if you have contributed to someone’s intoxication and they go on to hurt someone or damage property, you could be held responsible for their actions.
How to lower your liquor liability insurance rates.
1. Know your risks.
Your risk for liquor liability is mostly going to be determined by, among other factors, what you primarily use your space for. The more alcohol you serve or that is allowed on your property, the more likely you are to have liquor liability incidents. So, nightclubs and taverns will more than likely have higher liquor liability insurance rates than an office or single family that hosts the occasional party. So, first and foremost, it’s important to know what your risks are and come up with a plan that’s best for your specific situation.
2. Start with the interview.
If you’re a business looking to hire a bartender or waitstaff, you’ll want to be clear about what is expected of them during the interview process. Let them know the risks of the job and at least an idea of the rules your business has while serving alcohol. Make sure your interviewee knows that they’ll have to understand federal and state laws as well as the policies you have for your business.
You’ll also want to review your potential hire’s history and keep a special eye out for any alcohol-related incidents, including underage drinking, DUIs, and selling or supplying minors with alcohol. You could also ask a potential employee how they would handle liquor liability situations, such as a minor wanting to be served alcohol or how they would handle a drunk patron who wants to be served more alcohol.
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3. Give proper training.
When you do have a new hire, you’ll want to make sure that your company’s game plan includes proper training so that your employees know exactly how to deal with alcohol-related incidents. You’ll want your training to cover:
- State and local liquor laws
- How to verify age and recognize a fake ID
- Signs of intoxication
- Signs that someone is buying alcohol for a minor
- How to refuse service and de-escalate situations with drunk guests
- How to document incidents
- Proper measuring and serving of alcoholic drinks
- Who to ask for help in an alcohol-related situation
- The consequences of not following these rules
Also, make sure that your servers and bartenders make themselves available to your guests while they’re on the job. Encourage your patrons to grab someone’s attention if they see anything strange or if another guest is acting oddly or violently.
4. Have cut and dry policies.
In addition to your federal, state, and local laws, make sure that you have clear policies for your particular business as well. No one knows the personality of your patrons and the ins and outs of your business quite like you do. So, you can tailor your policies to how your company runs on a day to day basis.
Make sure your alcohol policies are written down and displayed somewhere that all of your employees can see and refer to. Create clear policies on how to take and monitor your alcohol inventory. Your employees should also know how to properly store and secure your alcohol, and properly report liquor liability incidents to you and the authorities if necessary.
5. Help your guests drink responsibly.
If you’re a company or other entity that hosts parties on a regular but not frequent basis, you’ll want to make sure that you promote responsible drinking outside of just a sign. Some safety measures you can take are to:
- Make attendance optional if alcohol will be served at your event
- Have guests order drinks to be served to them, instead of a self-serve bar
- Set up bar stations instead of having servers walk around offering drinks
- Don’t price your alcohol too low
- Offer a range of low-alcohol or alcohol-free drinks at low or no charge
- Always serve food when serving alcohol
- Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of a party
- Don’t offer a last call (it encourages people to rush to the bar for a last drink)
- Don’t raffle or offer alcohol as a prize at your event
- Have a drink limit or issue drink tickets for the night
You may also want to put up signs for your patrons to make it clear that you abide by certain state and liquor laws, and that your company will fully comply with any legal investigation for a liquor liability case.
6. Know your layout.
Wherever you’re serving alcohol, make sure that you or your servers have clear lines of sight throughout the venue. This will let people find and address liquor liability issues more easily. You may even choose to have mirrors or security cameras that staff can access in order to help monitor your guests for any intoxicated behavior. At the very least, you’ll want to ensure that there are no fixtures or decorations that will block your staff’s line of sight throughout the building, especially in a nightclub or bar.
7. Talk to your insurance carrier.
Once you have the proper measures in place or as you develop new methods for lessening your liquor liability, talk to your insurance agent about what kinds of discounts you may be eligible for. Your insurance company could offer you cheaper liquor liability insurance rates if you show that your business is taking measures to reduce your risk.
Liquor liability risks can happen anywhere from nightclubs to personal homes hosting parties on a regular basis. So, it’s important to assess your risks beforehand and make sure you’re properly covered for anything that may happen. Doing so could not only keep your business and guests safe, it could also help lower your liquor liability insurance rates.
Want to know how to start with affordable liquor liability insurance rates? Call our insurance experts! We’ll get to know your business’s specific risks and give you free quotes on the best liquor liability coverage year after year. Call 770.497.1200 today to get started or fill out our easy online form.