Liquor Liability Insurance? I’ll Drink to That: A Complete Guide to Serving and Hosting Responsibly





Liquor liability?

‘Tis the season for holiday revelry, and whether you’re planning a company or client party at your office or rented space or just inviting neighbors in for holiday revelry, you’re likely wondering what your role is as a host serving alcohol at a private function.

Here’s everything you need to know about liquor liability insurance to protect your guests…and you.

Why You Need Liquor Liability Insurance

Or do you? In many cases, the answer is an obvious yes that you need liquor liability insurance, such as if you personally run a bar, restaurant or a catering company and are planning events there.

But if you’re just entertaining clients in your office space for a one-off event, you might not need separate insurance—or you may choose to purchase a short-term policy.

In many cases, your event may fall under the umbrella of “social host liquor liability,” which means that your general business liability insurance policy should cover an alcohol-related incident. Note that this protection doesn’t extend to an incident that is determined to be caused by your negligence, as in you were responsible for “overserving” a guest who then caused an accident; you made alcohol available to a minor, or you were violating any local regulations. (Of course, in many cases general liquor liability insurance wouldn’t cover these incidents either.)

Social host liquor liability laws vary by state so check and make sure that you understand the circumstances under which the law covers you; for example, if you can be held responsible for a guest who causes an accident after drinking excessively.

However, for extra protection, you may want to seek short-term “host liquor liability” insurance for a specific event. Check with your insurance provider to find out how much it would cost to add a temporary policy; rates vary depending on the length of the event, how many attendees and other circumstances, but the cost may be well worth it for your piece of mind. We are able to add liquor liability to an event policy or on many short-term options.

Serve Responsibly

Whether you elect to add host liquor liability insurance or not, there’s no substitute for smart alcohol policies. Here are four best practices to consider.

Hire professional bartenders.

And no, it’s not because they’re able to mix a mean Manhattan; it’s because they are trained in local laws and how to tell when guests are intoxicated. They also often have their own liability insurance, which covers any negligent behavior on their part.

Don’t leave the bar “open.”

You may be serving drinks free of charge but that doesn’t mean you should serve them free of restrictions. Many hosts opt to offer each guest just two drink tickets to limit overconsumption. At the least make sure that guests aren’t free to just help themselves, but that someone is monitoring the bar to keep an eye on how much they are drinking.

Have ample options available.

Many guests choose not to drink for a variety of reasons but don’t make them subsist on warm tap water. Make sure you have a full complement of non-alcoholic beverages, such as sodas, juices and even “mocktails” available. And serve food, which can slow the absorption of alcohol.

Forgo alcohol altogether.

If you’re going “dry,” you’re definitely on trend. A survey from executive search firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas found that fewer firms were serving alcohol at the company party…48.7 percent had intended to in 2017, compared to 62 percent in 2016.

Wondering if you should seek liquor liability insurance? Check with your insurance carrier to make sure you have all the protection you need.


“Legal Disclaimer. Views expressed here do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is for general guidance of matter only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Discussion of insurance policy language is descriptive only. Every policy has different policy language. Coverage afforded under any insurance policy issued is subject to individual policy terms and conditions. Please refer to your policy for the actual language.”
Phill O'Kane
About the Author
Since 1946, family owned and operated O’Kane and Tegay Insurance Brokers have been there for the times in life that need to be covered, but you rarely think about. Our San Francisco based firm offers a wide range of insurance products and services, including personal automobile, homeowners, workers compensation, property, commercial automobile, general liability, and surety; with personal expertise in commercial insurance for multi-unit property owners, business commercial property & causality, and Construction. We’ll be there when you need us most, and that’s what set us apart from our competitors, doing the right thing the right way. Specialties Business Auto Insurance, Builders Risk Insurance, Renters Insurance, D & O Liability Insurance, General Liability Insurance, Business Liability Insurance, Bar Restaurant Insurance, Food Truck Insurance, Apartment & Lessor Risk, Workers Compensation and Umbrella Liability. Ready to talk? Feel free to connect with me here on LinkedIn, drop me a line at , visit me online at or call me directly at (415) 242-8756.

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