Holidays also evoke a sense of celebration…and drink specials at your favorite bar or restaurant. Whether it’s the champagne of New Year’s Eve, the green-tinted cocktails of St. Patty’s Day, or the margaritas of Cinco de Mayo, the commercial underwriter in me sees the potential risks for the establishment involved.
Most of bars and restaurants are full of celebrators on these days and it’s great for business – if you have the proper liquor liability coverage and controls in place. In my experience underwriting liquor liability coverage, most establishments recognize the need for this coverage, but many do not recognize the need to have all of their servers complete a certified alcohol awareness training course. Here are the top three reasons all servers need this important training:
- Safety of customers and employees. Employees who receive the training will have confidence and a sense of empowerment to make the right decisions. Everyone wants to have a good time, but knowing the signs of intoxications can reduce the chances of assault and battery. The last thing anyone needs is a rowdy tipsy bloke breaking bottles. This situation can result in potential Workers’ Compensation and bodily injury claims, and cause patrons to leave and move on to the next establishment.
- Reduce the risk of fines. Information within the training should include how to properly check age-verifying identification. Municipalities routinely create “sting” operations by purposely sending in an undercover underage patron. If the underage patron is served, the server and the establishment typically receive a fine.
- Reduce the risk of being a target defendant. When a liquor liability claim is filed, the investigation often shows that the alleged intoxicated person visited multiple establishments (a.k.a. a pub crawl or bar hopping). There have been circumstances where the investigation is unable to definitively determine a timeline that establishes how many drinks were served at each establishment. By having proper controls and training, your establishment will be able to prove how many drinks were served and what, if any, signs of intoxication were present. If the other establishments are not able to provide the same proof, you may avoid being a target defendant. A good argument can be presented to shift liability towards the other establishments.
Some clients express that the cost of training all servers is prohibitive, but the cost of Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) is only $40 per server. Plus some of your servers may have already received the training at their prior place of employment – it’s always important to ask. When compared to the possible consequences and cost of not providing training, it can be, well, sobering.
For more information about alcohol awareness training and its benefits, contact your independent agent or loss control representative.