This is Everything You Need to Know About Host Liquor Liability

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This is Everything You Need to Know About Host Liquor Liability

By Zuma Insurance Services | December 6, 2017

This is Everything You Need to Know About Host Liquor Liability


If you run a business, there’s a good chance you want to reward your hardworking employees with a holiday party they’ll enjoy and remember. In many cases, this means hosting a gathering that includes alcoholic beverages. But before business holiday parties are organized, it is important to understand the risks involved and the level of liability that your company is responsible for. This means including liquor liability insurance as part of your general business liability policy. While it may seem like liquor liability insurance cost is not worth it for the limited amount of times your business actually serves alcohol, in the long run, it may end up being one of the best choices you’ve made. Zuma keeps this in mind, as well as the limited nature of California’s Dram Shop Laws.

California Dram Shop Laws

Business holiday parties sometimes result in drinking and driving, and in California, the dram shop laws apply primarily to cases where people under 21 were served. Even when employers are careful to only include employees in the festivities that are over 21 years of age, there is a chance that the employee’s “plus one” may be underage, and a business could be held liable. Having an outside bartender and a cash bar, complete with I.D. checking, can minimize these incidents. Also, local laws may be more strict, so it is important to be aware of these laws in your area and make sure they’re monitored appropriately.

This is Everything You Need to Know About Host Liquor Liability

Other Types of Host Liquor Liability

Drinking alcohol at a company event can lead to other damaging situations besides car accidents, and some of these are incidents that the company may be held liable for. One protection that employers can give themselves is to set a clear precedence that the work party is completely separate from any work-related duties, and participation is voluntary, and any work-related activities, including networking, should be avoided.

Potential for Sexual Harassment Claims

When a person is under the influence of alcohol, there is a bigger risk that they may say or do something that a co-worker may take as offense, inappropriate, or an example of harassment. Before it is time for the party, it is important that sexual harassment training is up to date for employees and that potential victims have a safe outlet for reporting potential violations.

Workers Compensation Claims

In general, workers compensation claims are not valid for accidents that occur during business holiday parties, but that doesn’t mean that some employees won’t try and make these claims. At Zuma , we can make sure these situations are addressed and can advise you so that you can get the level of coverage needed.

Premises Liability Claims

If non-employees are invited to holiday parties, there is a possibility that premises liability claims may be made as well. This is true with or without alcohol, but incidents such as slips and falls are more likely.

This is Everything You Need to Know About Host Liquor Liability

Theft and Vandalism

Just like claims of sexual harassment or other misconduct can go up during a gathering where alcohol is served so can cases of theft and vandalism or even accidental destruction of property. These are concerns whether the company party happens onsite or offsite. It is important to take steps to prevent party crashers in order to minimize the risk, which could be costly for your company. Remembering the following can help keep the holidays safe and enjoyable and will prevent most incidents from turning into a liability for your company:

  • Have a good training policy, including sexual harassment training.
  • Set reasonable boundaries for business holiday parties – such as limiting guests outside the company.
  • Avoid mixing business into the party.

Even with these precautions it is also important to remember that there is always a chance things will go awry, and the right level of liquor liability insurance can help keep you covered. If you represent a company that is looking to celebrate the holidays in California but don’t want to be faced with unnecessary surprises in the new year, Zuma can help you find the right policy that will keep you covered so you and your employees can celebrate your hard work in style. Contact us to learn more about your options for all your business insurance needs.