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A Service of Alcohol Policy Can Help Prevent Costly Accidents

 

Protect Your Guests, Staff, and Business by Posting Your Policy

Learning that an intoxicated patron was involved in a car accident can be one of the most uneasy feelings a restaurant or bar owner could experience. Now that we are closer to the holidays, Hospitality Insurance Group urges business owners to have a Service of Alcohol policy in place to help prevent alcohol-related incidents.

Sandra Haley, Sr. Vice President of Underwriting and Marketing, explained that insurers understand that guests could get disorderly and suggests that having an alcohol serving policy in place can help diffuse some situations.

“Staff can avoid confrontations with patrons about overserving them if you have an alcohol serving policy posted in your establishment,” she said. “Not only does it support your employees, it also lets patrons know that you are watching them.”

The policy should also provide procedures on how to deal with people who have had too much to drink, Haley explained. It is important for business owners and bartenders to understand that following the policy is instrumental in preventing incidents that could lead to bodily injury, property damage, or death.

“The cost of overserving someone goes far beyond the extra dollars you’re going to collect,” Haley said, adding, “it is never worth the risk.”

Establishments, she says, could also face fines from the Alcohol Commission, risk losing their license, and damage their reputation because of overserving. Another cost to consider is the increase in the business owner’s insurance premium. “Insurance companies look at claims that occurred at the establishment and premiums are determined by the establishment’s experience,” Haley said.

Business owners that would like more guidance on creating their own Service of Alcohol policy should speak with their insurance agent. To make sure you are protecting your business from every threat this season, ask your insurance agent about a policy from Hospitality Insurance Group.

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Dram Shop Laws Vary by State

Business owners who serve or sell alcohol might have heard about the Dram Shop Act. It is a law in more than three dozen states, including all of New England, that holds businesses liable if an intoxicated patron injures anyone inside or outside of the establishment. While laws may vary from state by state, Hospitality Insurance Group aims to shed light on what business owners should know about Dram Shop laws.

“The Draw Shop Act is going to indicate liability if someone is overserved, and what happens if an establishment serves a minor,” said Sandra Haley, Sr. Vice President of Underwriting and Marketing. “Any business that is underinsured takes the risk that if the insurance doesn’t pay for the claim, they will have to come up with that money.”

More than 40 states currently have Dram Shop laws, and the primary differences between states could be significant. In one state, Haley says, the statute of limitations could be six years. In those states, insurance experts recommend that restaurant owners hold on to evidence for longer. Other differences in state liquor laws could be limitations on the amount that could be claimed or whether courts will consider contributory negligence in legal defenses.

There are several reasons, Haley says, that restaurant owners will want to check in with their insurance agent. “Every year, something changes. Legal judgements have increased through the years, people are held more responsible today than they were years ago,” Haley said. “Businesses can stay up to date on their state’s liquor laws by either asking their insurance agent or by contacting their insurance company.”

Hospitality Insurance Group specializes in liquor liability coverage. Our underwriters are knowledgeable about the unique risks that businesses in the hospitality industry face. Make sure you have the right amount of protection, and ask your insurance agent about coverage through Hospitality Insurance Group.

 

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Your Business Could be Missing This Essential Alcohol-Related Coverage

Liquor-related incidents have the potential to close any established restaurant or
bar, magnifying the significance of having a liquor liability insurance policy. While
this insurance policy covers a wide range of incidents, Hospitality Insurance Group
urges business owners to evaluate whether they need the added protection that is
offered by having the optional assault and battery coverage.

“A liquor liability policy is a policy that anybody who serves alcohol or sells alcohol
should have purchased,” said Sandra Haley, Senior Vice President of Underwriting
and Marketing at Hospitality Insurance Group. “Assault and battery is going to
provide coverage when there is a fight in your establishment.”

The standard liquor liability policy covers losses related to bodily injury or property
damage when it is caused by an individual who was served too much alcohol. In
other words, Haley says, this coverage would cover the losses resulting from
someone who accidentally injured themselves or others because they had too much
to drink.

Restaurant owners could face legal trouble if that is the only liquor-related coverage
they purchased, Haley added. She says assault and battery coverage would be
invaluable, for example, if your bouncer or doorman accidentally injures a patron
when they were asking them to leave. It would also cover losses if your guest
started a fight with another guest.

Assault and battery coverage is often overlooked, she says, because business
owners might assume that incidents involving ‘intended injury’ is covered under
general liability or liquor liability coverage. “Typically, the standard liquor liability
policy does not include assault and battery coverage. It is typically offered to
establishments as an optional coverage,” Haley said.

For businesses insured through Hospitality Insurance Group, Haley explained that
restaurant owners will now have options when their policy renews. “We always sold
it, however, it was very confusing because it wasn’t covered in one form,” Haley
said. “You will now be able to decide whether you want to purchase assault and
battery coverage, and if you do, at what limit you would like to purchase it.”

These updates reinforce the need for businesses to evaluate their insurance policy
every year, Haley added. If you are up for a renewal, consider asking your
insurance agent about switching to Hospitality Insurance Group for your liquor
liability insurance needs.

Contributed by Hospitality Insurance Group, Southboro, MA | www.hmic.com

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Video Could Provide Indisputable Evidence for Businesses

Business owners could receive a damaging legal outcome if an incident were to happen on their premises, and there was no footage to deny claims. Restaurants and bars are especially susceptible to being sued in today’s environment, and Hospitality Insurance Group would like to shine a spotlight on the importance of having surveillance systems installed.

“If you don’t have a surveillance system, it is going to be the injured party’s word against yours,” said Sandra Haley, Sr. Vice President of Underwriting and Marketing at Hospitality Insurance Group. “In the event someone comes fourth and sues you, if you have video of the event, it can protect you.”

Surveillance systems, Haley says, can be inexpensive and found at nearly every hardware store. She explains that the upfront cost is relatively insignificant compared to an unfavorable settlement that could have been prevented.

The placement of cameras should also be considered, Haley added. “Typically, you are going to want to have video if you have a dance floor, bar area, or parking lot, where a lot of incidents can happen,” Haley said.

Having the statute of limitations in mind, it is recommended that business owners hold onto footage for three years if they know an incident occurred. For regular business days with no known incidents, Haley says, businesses should hold onto the video for 60, 90, or 120 days.

“With a video that shows the incident that occurred, it is an unbiased view of the incident itself, surveillance video is evidence,” Haley said, adding that business owners should also be aware that destroying evidence is against the law. “Destroying it could be far worse than not having it all.”

Running a successful restaurant or bar is challenging when you consider all of the legal, insurance, and logistical aspects that keep a business operational. Working with an insurer that understands your unique business risks can help you acquire an appropriate amount of coverage. For peace of mind that is affordable, speak with your insurance agent and ask about coverage through Hospitality Insurance Group.

contributed by Hospitality Insurance Group, Soutboro, MA www.hmic.com

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Count On Experienced Insurers for Your General Liability Needs

Restaurants and bars face a litany of general liability risks that are often overlooked. It could be the spiraling staircase or the featured dish of the week that increases a business’ risk for general liability claims. As part of an ongoing series to help business owners in the hospitality industry prevent losses, Hospitality Insurance Group is highlighting the common risks that could make businesses insolvent.

“Well run businesses with processes and procedures will always save money,” said Richard E. Welch Jr., President & CEO of Hospitality Insurance Group. Welch suggests working with an insurer that understands the risks a restaurant or bar might encounter to receive the proper general liability coverage needed.

“General liability coverage is designed to protect businesses from the liabilities that generally come up in the course of business for a bar or restaurant,” Welch said. “The level of risk associated with any business can vary based on a large number of factors.”

The most common type of liability comes from slip and falls, according to Welch. Other important risks to consider is the level of floors, the type of food being served, and injuries resulting from service accidents.

Having the proper general liability coverage is crucial for staying in business. If your restaurant or bar does not have adequate coverage, you risk losing everything you worked hard to acquire.

Ask your insurance agent if your coverage comes from Hospitality Insurance Group, and take immediate action today to help prevent significant losses.

 

 

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Businesses Could Accidentally Overserve Alcohol in Craft Brew Craze

By: Richard E. Welch, Jr.

President & CEO, Hospitality Insurance Group

It wasn’t long ago when traditional, mass-produced beers were the only options patrons had when it came to ordering beer. Nowadays, craft brews can be found in nearly every restaurant and bar across Massachusetts. People have increasingly turned to craft beer for a variety of reasons, but these types of drinks could have damaging implications for business owners. In this blog, Hospitality Insurance Group addresses the higher alcohol content typically found in craft brews and shares strategies to help prevent overserving alcohol.

Craft brews can be appealing to guests for their taste, ingredients, variety of flavors, and alcohol content. While mass produced beer can contain between 4 and 5.5 percent of alcohol content, craft brews can be as high as 12 percent. Therefore, guests may end up drinking more alcohol than they had originally planned.

“The safety of someone’s customers should always be the top priority for any bar or restaurant,” said Richard E. Welch, President & CEO of Hospitality Insurance Group. He says there are several strategies that can help businesses keep their guests safe.

Since craft brews can contain as much as 2-3 times more alcohol than mass-produced beers, business owners should remain conscious of not overserving alcohol. One way businesses can prevent overserving alcohol is by varying the size of glasses when serving craft brews, so it is equivalent to traditional beers in terms of alcohol content.

Another strategy to prevent the overserving of alcohol, Welch says, involves having the right policies in place. Many businesses do not have procedures outlined when having to deal with an intoxicated guest. Restaurant and bar owners can mitigate potential losses if they understand how they will handle a scenario where someone who has had too much to drink.

Alcohol awareness training could be another solution to help prevent an incident of overserving alcohol, Welch added. Bartenders could learn useful information from these programs that can help keep guests safe. As an added measure, businesses could encourage bartenders to take a refresher course on a regular basis.

Restaurant and bar owners must remain vigilant to prevent overserving alcohol. As a specialist in liquor liability coverage, Hospitality Insurance Group understands the risks of overserving alcohol, and what that could mean to your business. Make sure your coverage is coming from Hospitality Insurance Group to make sure you have the right amount of coverage.

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Summer is a Good Time for Restaurant Owners to Focus on Preventing Communicable Diseases

By: Richard E. Welch, Jr.

President & CEO, Hospitality Insurance Group

An outbreak of a foodborne illness is the angst of every restaurant owner. This type of risk at a restaurant could have significant consequences, potentially leading to liability, reputation damage, fines & penalties, or ultimately closure of the restaurant. As more people dine out at restaurants this summer, it is worth highlighting that the warmer months are the peak season for foodborne illnesses. Fortunately, restaurant owners have several options to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are almost 50 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. per year on average, resulting in over 125,000 hospitalizations and about 3,000 deaths. The most common causes are norovirus, salmonella, clostridium perfringens, campylobacter, and staphylococcus aureas. Less common but more serious are clostridium botulinum, listeria, E. coli, vibrio, and hepatitis A.

The most cited risk areas for restaurants are contamination from employees who are sick or have dirty hands, cross contamination from one food to another, leaving perishables exposed to the elements, and supply chain risks.

Foodborne illnesses can be costly if restaurant owners do not take proper precautions. Therefore, it is essential for restaurants to encourage the proper standards to reduce this type of risk. Restaurant owners can help protect guests from this threat by educating employees about the risks from foodborne illnesses, having them avoid handling food if they are sick, asking them to wash their hands thoroughly before handling food, and to wear gloves whenever possible.

The National Restaurant Association offers a Food Safety Manager Certification as part of its ServeSafe® program that could help reinforce important precautions at your establishment. Another worthwhile precaution includes checking the insurance limits of your general liability coverage with your insurance carrier.

If you suspect you may have experienced an outbreak of foodborne illness, it is important to do everything possible to mitigate the damage by reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities and notifying your general liability insurance carrier.

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Does Legal Cannabis Make the Restaurant and Bar Business More Risky?

By: Richard E. Welch, Jr.

President & CEO, Hospitality Insurance Group

As the legalization of marijuana sweeps across the United States, it has the potential to disrupt the restaurant and bar business. Growing cannabis use has the possibility to reduce consumption of alcohol, which could hurt businesses that serve alcohol. On the opportunity side, many entrepreneurial restauranteurs are devising ways to serve cannabis infused foods or beverages in the hope of participating in a new market sector. While time will tell how these forces will play out, there is one change to the business that is being felt presently. Bars and restaurants are facing an increasing number of patrons consuming cannabis before or while drinking alcohol, which increases the risk of intoxication related incidents. The rise in consumption of cannabis infused edibles could only increase this risk.

Cannabis consumption in the United States has been around for a long time, but usage is growing as legalization makes it more socially acceptable. Edible cannabis has soared in popularity recently, especially among young adults, and these products are creating a new set of risks. Marijuana-infused edibles take longer for their effect to be felt and when they do kick-in, users could be under the influence of cannabis for several hours. Because edibles take effect more slowly, there is significant potential that a user can take too much before they have even felt the effect of the drug. Bartenders could be surprised to see someone completely sober one minute and clearly under the influence a short time later. Recent studies show that edibles are more likely to send users to the emergency room than its smoked equivalent.

Establishments that serve alcohol are governed in most states by “Dram Shop” laws, which hold them responsible for damages that result from the over-service of alcohol or the service of alcohol to minors. Dram Shop laws explicitly prohibit serving alcohol to people who are visibly intoxicated. While bartenders and servers are trained to spot people who are inebriated, identifying someone who is under the influence of cannabis can be a different challenge.

All of this poses a liability risk for restaurants and bars because it can be murky to distinguish whether a guest caused an accident or injured someone as a direct result of alcohol or a marijuana-laced product consumed at your establishment. Currently, there are no national equivalent cannabis laws to Dram Shop laws, so business owners that serve alcohol may still have to defend lawsuits if their patrons injure people as a result of the over-consumption of cannabis.

Business owners might find it hard to combat this change in culture, but there is hope for businesses willing to remain vigilant. The most effective way to protect your restaurant or bar from liability claims is to stay informed of trends and keep your bartenders trained on proper service of alcoholic beverages. The second is to make sure you are carrying the appropriate liquor liability insurance coverage. Liquor liability insurance protects bars and restaurants when they are accused of overserving alcohol to a patron and that patron goes on to injure someone. Liquor liability insurance will cover the cost of these claims up to the policy limits and the associated defense costs. This insurance will also pay for defense costs if lawsuits are presented that are ultimately determined to be related to the consumption of cannabis rather than alcohol.

Without the proper coverage, businesses could be hurt financially or even forced to close from a single claim involving cannabis. With proper coverage, if it is later determined that liquor was not the driving factor that led to bodily injury, business owners can rest assured knowing that their insurance provider will pursue legal actions to exonerate them in pending legal cases.

Hospitality Insurance Group specializes in providing liquor liability insurance, and our staff can make sure you are adequately protected from claims through your liquor liability insurance package. Even if your business is targeted following an accident linked to cannabis consumption, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are completely covered.

 

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