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Liability Coverage for Alcohol-Related Businesses

From restaurants and bars to brewers and bowling alleys, alcohol is big business.  In 2018, the American Beverage Licensees Industry Association study found that from bars to package stores, the alcohol serving industry accounts for more than $360 billion in economic impact annually.  What's more, the industry  is highly decentralized with more than sixty-five thousand firms currently operating in the United States.

Those numbers are only poised to grow as eating and drinking out continue to take an outsized chunk of the American food dollar.

Sadly, however, not all nights out end well. From bar fights to drunk driving, serving liquor is not without its risks. Over ten-thousand people are killed in drunk driving accidents annually, while a staggering fifty-thousand people a year will be the victim of a violent assault in a restaurant or bar.

For businesses in the alcohol service industry, tragedies can pose a serious risk to their operations many states hold these businesses liable through applicable dram shop laws. Currently, forty-four States and the District of Columbia have enacted such laws, which serve to hold social and commercial hosts liable for bodily injury or damage caused by an intoxicated person they’ve served. And, while the degree of care required to prevent such accidents from happening varies from state to state, it is not uncommon for dram shop settlements to reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In order to help minimize the existential risks faced by businesses exposed to these laws, it is crucial that companies in the business of serving alcohol have a strong risk management plan. Since the ISO CGL policy form excludes dram shop liability - often referred to simply as liquor liability - for entities “in the business of manufacturing, distributing, selling, serving or furnishing alcoholic beverages,” purchasing a supplemental liquor liability insurance policy is a necessary and cost-effective part of any successful risk management plan.

Assessing Insurance Risks for Businesses that Sell Alcohol

 No organization in the business of manufacturing, distributing, selling, serving or furnishing alcoholic beverages can afford to go without Liquor Liability insurance, but assessing the risks posed by your client’s unique business can often prove challenging, especially with laws that vary from state to state.

That’s where we come in. Our underwriters at Admiral Insurance Group are experts in assessing liability for all types of businesses in the alcohol and hospitality industries. Armed with decades of experience in underwriting liquor liability coverage, our underwriters can tailor policies to meet the needs of all kinds of unique liquor-related businesses on both a primary and supported excess basis.

The types of businesses we write liquor liability policies for include:

  • Amusement Parks (less than 10% liquor sales)
  • Axe-throwing Venues
  • Banquet Halls
  • Bars/Taverns
  • Bartenders
  • Breweries
  • Casinos
  • Catering
  • Certified Server – Trained (TIPS/TAMS)
  • Distilleries
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Hotels/Motels
  • Microbreweries
  • Nightclubs
  • Packaged Liquor/Grocery Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Sports Bars
  • Waterparks (less than 10% liquor sales)
  • Wineries

If you are a retail agent or broker looking to provide liability coverage for businesses that sell beer, wine or liquor, locate one of our wholesale brokers to start working with Admiral Insurance.


Lowell Bassett

Written by Lowell Bassett

Lowell Bassett is the liquor liability subject matter expert. He has over 30 years of underwriting experience and has been with the Admiral Seattle Casualty Team for over 20 years.



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