Restaurants and other eating establishments can be sued for many different reasons and need several restaurant liability insurance coverages to protect themselves. Here are some of the liability coverages that your Massachusetts eatery may want in its restaurant insurance policy.
What Liability Coverages Should My Massachusetts Eatery Look For When Getting Getting Restaurant Insurance?
General Liability Coverage
General liability coverage is a broad protection that’s used in many industries and by many businesses. This usually offers a range of protections against common accidents, such as slip-and-fall accidents. It also frequently covers slander, libel and false advertising lawsuits, and sometimes includes basic product liability protection (see next section).
This is perhaps the most basic liability coverage and thus, should be included among most Massachusetts eateries’ restaurant liability insurance coverages.
Product Liability Coverage
Product liability coverage typically offers protection for property damage, injuries and deaths caused by products that a business sells. Many people first think of manufacturers when they hear about product liability coverage, but its protections are useful to a variety of businesses.
For restaurants, product liability coverage may cover harm caused by food and beverages — products — that an establishment serves. Some examples of incidents that might be covered include:
- Food poisoning that’s spread by mishandled ingredients
- Choking caused by a bone that’s accidentally left in a dish
- Serious illnesses (e.g. salmonella) spread by uncooked food
If your eatery’s general liability coverage does include product liability protections, you may be able to forgo this restaurant liability insurance coverage. If general liability coverage doesn’t provide product liability protection or has a low product liability limit, however, this coverage may be needed.
Liquor Liability Coverage
Liquor liability coverage normally covers incidents where alcohol is involved. Depending on a particular policy’s terms and conditions, the following incidents may be covered if they involve an intoxicated patron:
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Fights and assaults
- Sexual harassment and assault
- DWI and DUI accidents
Your eatery likely only needs this coverage if it serves alcohol (either regularly or for special occasions).
If your establishment does serve alcohol, it almost certainly needs this coverage. General liability coverage frequently excludes alcohol-related incidents, leaving any business that serves alcohol at risk if it doesn’t have additional coverage. Additionally, having liquor liability coverage that meets state-minimum requirements is often a prerequisite for obtaining a liquor license.
Auto Liability Coverage
Auto liability coverage is usually needed anytime vehicles are driven on public roads. The coverage is available through a couple of different types of commercial auto policies.
A traditional commercial auto insurance policy is structured similar to a personal auto policy, with a few modifications made for businesses. These policies are typically purchased by businesses that own vehicles, and the policies often offer multiple liability and property coverages.
Hired and non-owned auto insurance policies are specialized auto policies for businesses that use vehicles they don’t own. For instance, businesses that have employees use their personal vehicles for work might get these policies. Hired and non-owned policies offer a range of liability and property coverages, but they’re normally adapted so that protection is only offered when a vehicle is being used for work.
If your eatery relies on vehicles, it likely needs one of these two types of auto policies. A traditional policy may be in order if you have a delivery van, food truck or catering vehicle. A hired and non-owned policy may be needed if employees use their cars to make deliveries. Both types of policies can frequently be included in a restaurant insurance policy.
Work with a Massachusetts Agent Who Knows Restaurant Insurance
Deciding which restaurant liability insurance coverages your eatery needs and then comparing policies is an involved process. For help with the process and finding good policies, contact an independent Massachusetts insurance agent who specializes in restaurant insurance. Such an agent will know what coverages to look for and will be able to compare policies from multiple insurers.