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If you run a business that manufactures, offers, or sells alcohol, including beer and wine, you’ll need a liquor liability insurance policy. This type of insurance is also sometimes referred to as dram shop insurance, and it protects your businesses if you’re accused of over-serving a patron. If that over-served patron leaves your establishment and gets into a car accident or damages property, or causes an injury to another person, you could be held liable via the Dram Shop Laws. The good news is that liquor liability insurance can help financially protect you.
Liquor Liability Insurance
Liquor liability insurance is specifically designed for shops and businesses that sell, distribute, manufacture, or supply alcohol. This is because general liability policies do not cover incidents that result from the sell, manufacture, distribution, or supply of alcohol. In fact, incidents caused by someone who was over-served at an establishment are often specifically excluded from the general liability insurance policy. For businesses that deal with or in liquor, this creates a gap in coverage. Thankfully, a liquor liability policy can fill this gap.
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What Businesses Need Liquor Liability Coverage?
If you serve, distribute, manufacture, or sell alcohol, you need a liquor liability policy. Liquor liability policies are designed to cover businesses that:
- Serve alcohol at a business location, including in restaurants, bars, taverns, hotels, and bed and breakfasts.
- If you regularly serve alcohol at your business-sponsored holiday parties or professional events.
- If you own a catering business that also offers alcohol as an option.
- If you own a venue that can be rented by customers and businesses, and those clients serve alcohol.
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What’s Included in Liquor Liability Insurance in Washington
Liquor liability insurance is a liability policy that’s designed to cover the business if a customer causes injuries, damages or a vehicle accident after imbibing at the establishment. While you may think that the individual who causes the damage or accident should be held responsible, in many cases, the resulting lawsuit also implicates the establishment that served the alcohol. This is because the establishment can be accused of over-serving the individual.
What Is Over-serving and Dram Shop Laws?
Over-serving occurs when a dram shop continues to serve alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated. In fact, the Dram Shop Act, which is a statute, holds establishments that serve alcohol responsible. Each state has its own Dram Shop Law. In Washington, the statute can be found under RCW Title 66 Chapter 66.44 in Section 200 (RCW 66.44.200). In Washington:
- It is illegal to serve someone alcohol to anyone who is obviously under the influence.
- If the individual is obviously under the influence, they cannot purchase or consume any more alcohol.
It is up to the host, bartender, server or other staff member to determine when a person has had too many alcoholic beverages. Of course, they can look for certain signs, like:
- Slurring speech
- Incoherent speech
- Rude or annoying behavior
- Being unsteady on their feet
- Falling down
Unfortunately, some individuals who have been over-served may not display these signs, and bartenders and servers may have difficulty determining if someone has been over-served. This is where liquor liability insurance is a must. Someone who was over-served but didn’t appear to be over-served could get into a vehicle and cause an accident that damages property and causes injuries. While the individual would be held responsible for their actions, the venue where they were served could also be held liable for over-serving them.
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What Determines the Cost of Your Liquor Liability Policy
The cost of your liquor liability policy is dependent on several factors. A few may include:
- The amount of liquor you sell as compared to your total overall sales.
- The type of establishment you run, meaning that taverns and bars typically pay more for liquor liability coverage than a caterer or a bed and breakfast.
- The location of your establishment.
- Your prior claims history.
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How to Get Liquor Liability Insurance in Washington
The state of Washington regulates business licenses for businesses in the cannibals and alcohol industries. In order to get a business license for these enterprises, the entity must show proof of insurance.
To get a liquor liability insurance policy, it’s best to contact an insurance company, like Boyd Insurance Brokerage Inc. An insurance company in Washington can listen to your needs, answer your questions and recommend the right liquor liability policy for your business.
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Get a Quote for Liquor Liability Insurance
At Boyd Insurance Brokerage Inc. in Spokane, Washington, we can help you get the business insurance you need for your venue, including liquor liability. We even offer brewery insurance. To learn more about liquor liability insurance and to get a quote, call us at 509-340-2693.