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.

What Insurance do Bars, Taverns and Restaurants need?

Bars, Taverns and Restaurants

Small Businesses in the Bars, Taverns and Restaurant Industry have many different risks that are unique to this industry. The difference between a dive bar and a four star restaurant are as different as a beauty salon and a gun club. There are different classification codes for different types of insurance coverage depending upon the operations of your business. This is because the risks of a coffee shop, is different from the risks of a cafe or a wine bar. Which classification code the business is classified in is a large part of what determines how much they pay for commercial insurance. This may determine whether the business wants to offer a certain type of food or service depending upon how much it will impact what the business pays for commercial insurance.

Overhead picture of a Restaurant.

Alcohol Consumption

Most states determine if a business is a restaurant (not a bar or tavern) if it makes a certain percentage of its revenue from food and not from alcohol sales. The typical amount to be determined a restaurant is less than 50%. If the business makes more than 50% of its revenue from alcohol sales it is a riskier business and is thus places in a riskier classification code. This causes the business to be charged a higher premium for commercial insurance. The next main factor that impacts a restaurants rate for commercial insurance is whether the restaurant offers alcohol or not at all. If the business does not offer alcohol at all, they obviously eliminate the risk of intoxicated customers. This lowers the most costly risk a bar tavern or restaurant faces.  Also, an additional factor in the amount of premium is if the business does offer alcohol, whether or not the business offers hard alcohol or just beer and wine. Hard alcohol causes intoxication at a faster rate, because of this the business is more likely to have problems related to alcohol consumption.

Picture of a bar or tavern.

Hours of Operation

Aside from alcohol consumption the next largest risk that faces Bars, Taverns and Restaurant is the hours of operation. There is much less risk in a diner open from 6:00 AM –  1:00 PM, compared to a bar that serves no food and stays open until 2:00 AM 7 days a week. The latter might carry a few more risks that might turn in to insurance claims. Because of this risk the business is going to pay more in premium for their commercial insurance. Limiting these risks before they turn in to insurance claims can save your business immensely over the long term.

Picture of a table with breakfast food and a laptop.

Types of Coverage for Bars, Taverns and Restaurant

Most insurance carriers have business owner’s packages designed specifically for Bars, Taverns and Restaurants. Here are some common coverages you will find included in those packages.

  • General Liability
  • Liquor Liability
  • Commercial Property
  • Business Personal Property
  • Workers Compensation
  • Business Income and Expense Coverage
  • Commercial Crime Coverage
  • Umbrella Coverage

General Liability Insurance covers a business for common slips and falls that happen on the property, Liquor Liability is required by law in most states and the amount of coverage is usually determined by the amount and type of alcohol a restaurant serves. Commercial Property Insurance covers damages to the building and most fixtures attached to the building. Workers’ Compensation is required by law in nearly every state and is coverage to prevent lawsuits for injuries that occur to your employees as part of normal business operations. Business Income and Expense Coverage is an addition to a Commercial Property Policy and will cover your business for loss of revenue due to being closed after damage to your premises. Commercial Crime Coverage will cover your business for crimes committed by your employees while acting on behalf of the company.  Umbrella Coverage is designed to extend the limits of existing policies when those limits have been met. It is important to note that Umbrella Policies only kick in on top of other existing policies. If the cause of the damage is not a covered peril than the Umbrella Policy will not be activated.

 

Below is a list of all the classification codes that might be included as a Restaurant, Bar or Tavern.

Business ISO General Liability:

  • Code: 16920- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Table service, dance floor
  • Code: 16921- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- No table service, but dance floor
  • Code: 16930- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Table service, no dance floor
  • Code: 16931- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- No table service, no dance floor
  • Code: 16940- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Bar service only, with dance floor
  • Code: 16941- Restaurant- alcohol sales >75%- Bar service only, no dance floor

NCCI Class Codes:

  • 9082 – Traditional Restaurant.
  • 9083 – Fast Food Restaurant
  • 9058 – Restaurants owned or operated in a hotel.
  • 9084 – Restaurant who receives more than 50% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.