Why Overserving Alcohol is Not Worth the Risk


By: Sandra Haley CPCU, CIC, CRM

Sr. Vice President Underwriting & Marketing

More than 1 million videos of fights or incidents at restaurants are available online for the rest of the world to see. Keen observers might notice that many individuals caught on film seem to be under the influence of a substance such as alcohol. With a commitment to help protect businesses in the hospitality industry from threats, we would like to highlight the ramifications of overserving alcohol to patrons.

From a broader perspective, establishments have a moral and legal obligation to help keep guests safe. If staff ignore the warning signs that someone has had too much to drink, bartenders and businesses could be held liable for damages patrons caused to innocent parties. 

Whether guests become unruly or get involved in a car accident later, the cost of overserving alcohol can be much greater than it first seems. Consider that while serving more alcohol to patrons may increase initial sales, the costs involved with over serving can far outweigh those additional sales. Besides civil charges, business owners will have to pay for legal representation and work towards restoring the establishment’s image. Additional costs might include fines, penalties, having your license suspended, and an increased cost in your liquor insurance policy. To make matters worse, a tarnished reputation could lead to a loss of customers. When you consider these factors, business owners should ask themselves, “Is it worth it?” 

Another cost that is not immediately obvious is the remorse that bar and restaurant owners will have to contend with if an intoxicated patron causes someone’s death or a permanent disability. 

Several guides, courses, and certifications are available that can help you prevent these incidences from ever happening at your establishment. Generally, it is recommended that staff be trained to recognize the signs of drunkenness. This could help bartenders identify people who have had too much to drink, and help them take appropriate actions. 

Other ways to keep guests safe and prevent accidents include: 

  • Not serving alcohol to individuals that appear ‘intoxicated’
  • Providing management training to help diffuse disagreements
  • Asking a guest’s family or friends to make sure they get safely home
  • Install cameras that can aid in investigations

As much as guests might want another drink, it is important to recognize when enough alcohol has been served. Hospitality Insurance Group specializes in liquor liability insurance, and we understand the importance of taking precautions. If you need to reevaluate your liquor liability coverage or would like to learn more about the insurance products we offer, call our toll-free number at 1-877-366-1140.