We didn’t know if there would be a football season this year, but here we are! The BIG Ten has even reversed its earlier decision, and now games will start in October…GO BUCKS! COVID-19 has changed how we’ll watch these games with smaller gatherings and social distancing in our favorite sports bars. If you own one of these establishments, you are likely focused on ensuring safety precautions/requirements are met, but your servers still need to be prepared to serve and sell alcohol responsibly, whether fans are coming into your establishment, picking up carryout, or ordering delivery.

Game days are great for business, IF you have the proper liquor liability coverage and controls in place. Most places 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 program called TIPS, Training for Intervention ProcedureS.

Here are three important reasons all servers need this important training:

  1. Safety of customers and employees. Employees should have a sense of confidence and empowerment to make the best decisions in any situation. Knowing the signs of intoxication can reduce the risk of many things, including assault and battery. The last thing anyone needs is a rowdy, tipsy fan getting in a fight or breaking bottles. This situation can result in potential Workers’ Compensation and bodily injury claims and leave your business with a bad rap.
  2. Reduce the risk of fines & penalties. Information within the training includes 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 receives a fine.
  3. 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 signs of intoxication were present (if any). 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 away from you.

**TIPS has also made more options and resources available to ensure your staff is prepared during this COVID pandemic, including “eTIPS Off Premises and Delivery” training that’s geared toward establishments that are offering alcohol for carryout or delivery. “It’s a very popular program to reduce liability and prevent underage alcohol sales.” Learn more at their website.

Overall, this dynamic, skills-based training is designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage drinking by improving the essential “people skills” of servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol. Some clients express that the cost of training all servers is prohibitive, but the cost of TIPS is very reasonably priced. Plus, some of your servers may have already received the training at their prior place of employment – so 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.

The information above is of a general nature and your policy and coverages provided may differ from the examples provided. Please read your policy in its entirety to determine your actual coverage available.

Copyright © 2020 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

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