Dram Shop Insurance

What is Dram Shop Insurance and How Should a Business Purchase Coverage?

Dram Shop Insurance is required by law in nearly every state in the country. In the past, Dram Shop was a term that referred to places where alcohol was sold by the dram (a small quantity of liquid). Dram Shop Liability Laws have been created to protect the public from intoxicated individuals who have been over-served by an establishment. Dram Shop Insurance is a type of insurance required by businesses that sell and serve alcoholic beverages. Most within the insurance industry now use the term Liquor Liability Insurance as it is more straight-forward and easier to remember.

What Determines Cost of Dram Shop Insurance?

There are a number of factors that determine what a business pays for Dram Shop Insurance. Like a normal commercial insurance policy, it depends upon the state you operate in, the revenue of your business, and the number of employees. Specific to Dram Shop Insurance the determining factors include the types of alcohol sold, the closing time, the amount of food compared to alcohol receipts, the square footage of the facility, the average price of the drinks, the types of entertainment on the premises (live music, karaoke,etc.), and whether the establishment has bouncer manning the door. Having well-designed protocols in place for how your staff should deal with intoxicated customers goes a long ways towards limiting the frequency and severity of claims within your business.

What is Covered by Dram Shop Insurance?

Dram Shop Insurance covers many claims your business may face. Some of those covered claims include bodily injury, property damage, coverage for intoxicated employees, fights, legal costs, and mental anguish. Not what is covered and how much is covered will differ depending upon the carrier you are purchasing from and the state you are operating in. Businesses should review all policies extremely carefully before purchasing coverage for their business. Partnering with an independent insurance agent is a great way to get unbiased advice about the differences between coverages from carrier to carrier.

The big difference between Dram Shop Insurance Policies are the type of carrier a business is purchasing coverage from. The two types of carriers include admitted and non-admitted carriers. An Admitted Carrier is required to file rates with the state and follow rules and regulations set by each state’s Department of Insurance. A Non-admitted Carrier is not required to file rates or follow the same state regulations. Non-admitted Carriers do have to prove to the state they operate in that they are able to financially pay the claims their policyholders file. In addition to admitted vs. non-admitted carriers it is important for business owners to check the financial strength of the carrier as reported by the AM Best or by Standard & Poor’s.

9 things to know about Liquor Liability Insurance

Liquor Liability

Liquor Liability Insurance is also known as dramshop liability in many parts of the United States. Most businesses that sell or serve alcohol are either legally required to buy Dram Shop insurance, or will benefit and protect their business by having this insurance coverage.  Here are nine things to consider when deciding to buy Liquor Liability Insurance.

Liquor Liability

Dram Shop Laws exist in 43 states

“Dram Shop” laws (a law that makes a business liable if they serve a patron who is clearly intoxicated) exist in forty-three states. Each law is unique to the state it exists in. Most laws require some legal liability to be placed on any business serving alcohol or allowing alcohol to be served on a property owned by the business.

Liquor Liability Laws differ by state

Each state has their own unique laws governing liability. The best way to make sure you have the proper protection for your establishment is to partner with an independent agent who has experience offering coverage to liquor serving establishments.

Most states require coverage

In most states it is a requirement to carry Liquor Liability Insurance just to be in business. Even if the law does not require coverage, it is always best to carry some coverage to protect the business from liability resulting from the actions of intoxicated patrons.

Most Banks or Financial Institutions Require Liquor Liability Coverage

Even if your individual state does not require coverage, many banks and other financial institutions require coverage in order to get a loan on a property or a business line of credit.

You don’t have to serve alcohol to be sued

If you rent out a facility that allows parties where alcohol is served or sold, you can be sued because of the actions of intoxicated guests at your facility. If you allow guests to rent out your property and alcohol is served, you can protect your business with Dram Shop Liability Insurance.

Some states allow multiple establishments to be defendants in a lawsuit.

Most states only allow them to be defendants in a lawsuit when an intoxicated person causes bodily injury to a third party after attending the establishment. Even if the patron spent a majority of the night consuming alcohol at another location. The establishment must prove that the patron was not or did not appear intoxicated while at their establishment.

Homeowner’s and Commercial Property have Lower Limits

Some Homeowner’s or Commercial Property Insurance Policies cover liquor liability. Typically this coverage is very specific and the limits are much lower then a Liquor Liability Insurance Policy.  If Dram Shop Liability is covered by a homeowners insurance policy, it commonly is limited to $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Underage Drinking is not covered by Liquor Liability

Most all Liquor Liability Policies do not cover issues regarding underage drinking. This is because underage drinking is a crime. If the establishment served an underage patron, they broke the law. Any time a crime is committed it invalidates an insurance policy. This is why you see managers and bouncers acting like professional wrestlers when they encounter an underage drinker on their premises.

Alcohol Awareness Education

Many carriers offer discounts on liquor liability coverage to establishments that provide alcohol awareness education and training to employees. This is a must for any establishment that offers alcohol. Not only because it can reduce what you pay for commercial insurance, but it can drastically lower the likelihood of a severe incident occurring on your premises.