Liquor liability is a risk for Maine businesses and not-for-profits that provide alcohol. Whether your sell or serve, you can be liable under the Maine Liquor Liability Act. You can be responsible for property damage, injury or death caused by the alcohol you provide. Liquor liability insurance can help.
Do I Need Liquor Liability Insurance?
If you don’t SELL alcohol…
Regular business liability coverage may be all you need. Most business general liability policies include “host liquor liability” coverage. That covers you for providing alcohol at a social event where guests aren’t paying for it. For example an open house or special event where drinks are available. Granted, you can still be liable for the effects of alcohol you provide. But you may not need special insurance.
If your business or organization sells or serves alcohol…
You DO need separate liquor liability insurance. Typical examples include
- Bars, pubs and taverns
- Breweries and distilleries with tasting rooms
- Restaurants and cafes
- Retail stores
- Performance venues
- Private clubs
- Dance clubs
For instance, someone could claim the alcohol you sold caused injury or damage. While your general liability insurance will not respond, but liquor liability insurance would.
Possible Liquor Claim Examples
- Auto accidents – a patron you serve gets behind the wheel and crashes, injuring someone. Or worse. The police test their BAC and find them over the legal limit.
- Serving underage patrons, even by mistake.
- Altercations or violence – an intoxicated patron (or two) gets into a fight. They injure others as a result. (Note, some liquor liability policies exclude assault and battery).
- Serving someone excessively – you can be responsible for their injuries or death.
- Serving an obviously intoxicated person – you can be responsible for resulting harm.
Are Damages for Maine Liquor Liability Capped?
The Maine Liquor Liability Act limits damages to $350,000 per incident. But that doesn’t include medical care or wrongful death. Medical care liability is unlimited. Even more, Maine’s Wrongful Death Statute allows up to an additional $
(in 2023, PL Chapter 390 increased the Maine Wrongful Death damage limit to $1 million, with an automatic adjustment for inflation).
In other words, serving liquor can get you in plenty of trouble. Protect your assets with Liquor Liability Insurance.
How Much Does Maine Liquor Liability Insurance Cost?
Costs vary greatly according to exposure. For example, the smallest liquor liability exposures can cost as little as $250 a year. On the other hand, businesses selling a lot of alcohol can spend several thousand dollars a year.
Cost factors include:
- Alcohol sales revenue
- Ratio of alcohol sales to other retail sales (stores)
- On-premises consumption vs. take-away
- Ratio of alcohol receipts to food (restaurants).
How to Reduce Insurance Costs
Meanwhile, controlling those factors are a good way to reduce insurance costs.
- Server education training for employees (TIPS, etc.)
- Written policies and procedures for servers, with compliance monitored by management.
- Strong ID checking procedures
- Providing non-alcoholic beverages
- “Ride home” alternatives for patrons who appear intoxicated
- Keeping a log book of any incidents – or potential incidents
Part of Your Total Insurance Plan
Does your Maine business or organization sell or serve liquor? Talk to a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We can advise whether you need liquor liability insurance. If you do, we can help you incorporate it into your overall insurance program.
Because we’re locally owned and independent, we offer a choice of insurance companies. In other words, we can help you find the best value for your insurance protection. We’re independent and committed to you.