Liquor Liability - Risk Management

​​​​If you operate a business where alcohol is sold or served, you need to manage and mitigate your liability risks. ​

If you operate a restaurant, bar, club, conference centre, hotel or other business where alcohol is sold or served, you need to manage and mitigate your liability risks. In addition to complying with municipal, provincial and federal liquor regulations, there are many steps you can take to manage risk. Your insurance representative can provide additional information about liquor liability and the risks that are covered in your insurance policy. 

​As soon as you are aware of a claim or potential claim situation, take action and contact your insurance representative.  ​

Tips for Managing Liquor Liability Risks​

  1. Create policies and procedures with meaningful consequences and strictly enforce them. Do not implement a written policy for your employees and/or volunteers unless it will be strictly followed and enforced. Some useful elements of a policy – that may be required by law – include:
    1. Limiting alcohol consumption
    2. Ensuring that bartenders are experienced and do not serve obviously intoxicated persons
    3. Offering food service
    4. Encouraging taxi use
    5. Providing reduced/subsidized taxi and hotel rates
    6. Encouraging car pools and designated-driver programs
    7. Reminding guests before and during the event not to drink and drive and of the other options available
    8. Having several trained doormen/bouncers/spotters who remain sober and watch people leaving and encourage or insist on taxi use
    9. Informing guests that intoxicated persons will be put into taxis
    10. Displaying posters from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) or similar organizations, outside and around alcohol consumption areas.
  2. Comply with all legislation regarding alcohol.
  3. Ensure proper permits – to sell or serve alcohol – are obtained.
  4. Train servers.
    1. Do not serve or sell alcohol to those under the legal drinking age. The age will vary depending on the province or territory.
    2. Do not serve patrons past the point of intoxication.
    3. Ensure that servers understand government legislation pertaining to alcohol. Ensure that servers follow the organization’s policies and procedures. Make sure training is documented.
  5. Implement a mandatory identification policy.
    1. Establish the forms of identification that will be accepted.
    2. Establish when identification needs to be shown. For example, require identification from anyone who is not obviously over the age of 30.
  6. Display informational material on government policies and legislation related to alcohol
    1. Inform customers that the business will abide by the rules set out by the government.
  7. Implement inventory controls over alcohol.
    1. Implement measures to prevent theft (e.g., install security cameras, hire additional personnel, etc.).
  8. Regulate hours to sell or serve alcohol. Check with your local authority to determine minimum standards.
  9. Use a facility-use agreement if you have rented out a location that you own and where renters may consume alcohol.
    1. Include a hold-harmless and indemnifying agreement that holds the owner of the premises harmless and indemnifies the owner for losses or damages resulting from the negligent use of the facilities or the serving of alcohol. These clauses may help limit your liabilities. Consult a lawyer for advice on contracts and agreements.
  10. Obtain insurance coverage, possibly with higher coverage limits (i.e., higher limits than organizations that do not serve/sell alcohol). Consult your insurance representative.
  11. Consider implementing a zero tolerance alcohol and drug policy. Do not allow employees and/or volunteers to:
    1. Consume alcohol or drugs while working
    2. Drink and drive
    3. Work if they appear intoxicated.


*Source: Compiled with Canadian Risk Intervention Inc.​