Liquor Liability & Your Business

Liquor liability laws differ from one state to the next, but there are a few things every establishment should keep in mind to protect themselves from the exposure.
September 1, 2020 | Retail
By: Aaron S.
Aaron joined Acuity in 2017 as our Retail Specialist—bringing with him almost 30 years of experience in a broad range of retail. He started his career stocking shelves in the seasonal department at a local retailer. A few years later, Aaron transitioned to a gas station/convenience store, where he worked second shift while getting his degree in organizational communications from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. It was during this time he made the move to the loss prevention and safety aspect of retail. Over the next 25 years, he worked in various retail segments, including video games, cosmetics/skincare, hardware/appliances, pharmacy/grocery, and clothing. Aaron held several positions during this time, including District Loss Prevention Manager, Regional Loss Prevention Manager, Regional Compliance Auditor, and National Manager of Loss Prevention and Operations. Outside work, Aaron likes to spend time with his wife (who has also worked in retail for over 20 years) and their twin teenage boys. They enjoy being outdoors on the water, fishing, and camping. As the Retail Specialist, Aaron’s goal is to enhance the partnership between retailers and Acuity by showing retailers that an insurance company can be a supportive resource and that Acuity truly understands their industry.

With craft beer and mixologist-level cocktails on the rise, many restaurants and retail operations are looking to differentiate themselves with liquor options. While this could be a great way to enhance your customer experience, it is also important to consider liquor liability laws and how this may affect your insurance.

 

Liquor liability laws differ from one state to the next, but there are a few things every establishment should keep in mind to protect themselves from the exposure.

 

Training is a key component in reducing the risk of serving or distributing alcohol to minors. It’s important that employees feel comfortable requesting identification from customers and reviewing it for the appropriate information. This means providing education about the different features of your local ID cards and how to detect a fake ID. Employees should also be familiar with any equipment or scanner devices used to check for valid identification. This technology can be effective in reducing the risk of serving alcohol to minors, but it is not always the be-all and end-all. Employees should still be reviewing IDs to ensure the photo matches the customer who presented it.

 

Consider putting policies in place to limit the number of drinks sold to one customer. This may involve obtaining manager approval before serving more than 3-4 drinks to the same person.

 

Ensure employees are familiar with the signs and symptoms of intoxication. Some of these indicators include:

 

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty with standing or walking
  • Confusion
  • Trouble with coordination
  • Increased volume or shouting 

 

Employees should be prepared and empowered to make difficult decisions and turn away anyone who does not meet the legal requirements to purchase or drink alcohol. Establishments are encouraged to offer training to employees about approaching customers and how to handle themselves if customers become aggressive, unruly, or combative. When in doubt, employees should be encouraged to contact their manager for assistance. Involving a manager or coworker ensures someone else is familiar with the situation should a claim be presented later.

 

Video surveillance can be a great tool if a liquor liability claim presents itself. This also means having adequate storage for video footage. Often, claims are not presented right away, and employees who were present the night of the claim are no longer employed or do not recall the specifics of the claim. Surveillance footage allows for a better understanding of your position in the case. Even if the video is not in your favor, it still helps prepare for handling the claim and understanding the risks. 

 

At the end of the day, your servers are your first line of defense against liquor liability claims. Training and education help them to be prepared for the requirements of the job. With the support of management, employees should feel empowered to make the necessary decisions to reduce the risk of a liquor liability claim. 

 

To see if liquor liability coverage is right for your business, please contact your Acuity independent insurance agent or find one here.

By: Aaron S.
Aaron joined Acuity in 2017 as our Retail Specialist—bringing with him almost 30 years of experience in a broad range of retail. He started his career stocking shelves in the seasonal department at a local retailer. A few years later, Aaron transitioned to a gas station/convenience store, where he worked second shift while getting his degree in organizational communications from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. It was during this time he made the move to the loss prevention and safety aspect of retail. Over the next 25 years, he worked in various retail segments, including video games, cosmetics/skincare, hardware/appliances, pharmacy/grocery, and clothing. Aaron held several positions during this time, including District Loss Prevention Manager, Regional Loss Prevention Manager, Regional Compliance Auditor, and National Manager of Loss Prevention and Operations. Outside work, Aaron likes to spend time with his wife (who has also worked in retail for over 20 years) and their twin teenage boys. They enjoy being outdoors on the water, fishing, and camping. As the Retail Specialist, Aaron’s goal is to enhance the partnership between retailers and Acuity by showing retailers that an insurance company can be a supportive resource and that Acuity truly understands their industry.