Massachusetts businesses that sell alcohol sometimes can be held responsible for property damage or injuries that result from intoxicated patrons’ actions. Liquor liability insurance policies help businesses protect themselves from some of the risks that can come with selling alcohol.
Liquor liability insurance policies are specialized commercial liability insurance policies specifically designed for covered liquor-related incidents. Like many other types of liability insurance, policies will typically pay legal fees, settlements and judgements (up to a policy’s limits) for covered claims.
Massachusetts businesses generally can benefit from having a liquor liability policy if they sell alcohol, and many businesses that sell alcohol are actually required by state law to obtain coverage. Without a policy that at least meets the state minimum requirements, businesses usually won’t receive a liquor license from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
In some cases, businesses that don’t actually sell alcohol but serve it during events might also want liquor liability coverage. Even though these businesses may not be collecting money for the alcohol they give out, they still might be held liable for an alcohol-related incident. For businesses in this situation, a policy that lasts only for the duration of an even is often an affordable solution.
Servers, bartenders and other workers who serve alcohol normally should have liquor liability coverage. They may be personally named in any lawsuits that are filed following an alcohol-related incident.
Often, however, servers and bartenders don’t need to personally purchase a liquor liability policy. Many employers’ policies extend coverage to both owners of the business and the business’ employees.
To make sure they’re covered, workers can ask their supervisors to check whether the business’ liquor liability policy provides coverage for employees. It likely does. If it doesn’t, though, servers and bartenders might want to talk with an insurance agent who specializes in this coverage about getting a policy.
The exact incidents that a particular liquor liability policy covers are determined by the policy’s paperwork, and coverages can vary from one policy to the next. Depending on a policy’s documentation, it may cover incidents like the following:
While it may seem like the intoxicated patron(s) should be held responsible for their own actions, the business and people who let people become so intoxicated that these things happen are often also deemed partially responsible.
Many liquor liability policies have exclusions that preclude incidents involving underage drinking from their coverages. For this reason and to ensure underage drinking laws are being followed, establishments generally should still check patrons’ identification prior to serving them.
Restaurants that let patrons bring their own bottles or booze are may find themselves in an unclear position should an intoxicated patron cause an incident. Because these restaurants let patrons bring in alcohol, the restaurants might be held liable for alcohol-related incidents. Restaurants that open and serve alcohol which patrons bring in are even more likely to be held responsible.
Since liability isn’t always clear in these situations, it’s frequently a good idea for restaurants that allow BYOB to have liquor liability coverage.
For help finding liquor liability insurance that will protect your Massachusetts business well, contact the independent agents at Haberman Insurance Group. Our agents have helped many businesses in the state find the coverage they need, and we’d be happy to assist you as well. With our experience and independent status, our team is well qualified to find your business the best available policy regardless of what insurance company offers it.