A tragedy occurred at the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival some years ago when an underage worker was given access to alcohol and later died in a single-car crash. Her blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was nearly twice the legal limit.

Following this tragedy, insurance companies throughout Canada became understandably hesitant to provide liquor liability coverage for these venues and events, only doing so if strict controls were in place. The Canadian government has since cracked down hard on venues, bartenders, and others serving alcohol, with regulations designed to limit underage drinking and shut down service to inebriated patrons. The regulations fall into three categories: behind the bar, the bar itself, and in front of the bar. 

Behind the bar: A long list of requirements is now in effect, starting with the basics of having a liquor license and Smart Serve licenses for every server. Other requirements include the following:

  • Having at least one server that is first-aid certified
  • Requiring ID for anyone under age twenty-five
  • Ensuring an adequate number of servers for the number of patrons
  • Declining service to anybody that is intoxicated
  • Providing a maximum of two drinks per customer at one time
  • Storing alcohol beyond the reach of patrons

The bar itself: The bar must be suitably structured and equipped to serve alcohol, with a few additional provisions including the following:

  • Sufficient disposal receptacles
  • Appropriate lighting
  • Drink containers that conform to site or event specifications
  • Bar area that is clean and clutter-free

In front of the bar: These regulations generally concern the physical setup of the bar area as well as security within the venue and include the following:

  • Making nonalcoholic drinks available, including water
  • Locating the drink ticket booth (if any) away from the bar itself
  • Ensuring proper security for large events
  • Allowing space around the bar to facilitate the free flow of patrons

Liquor liability is becoming required for venues and events where alcohol is served. Whether your event is one day or one week, ensuring you have the proper risk management steps in place is just as important as having the proper insurance coverage. Regardless of who you choose to represent you in purchasing a liquor liability policy, make sure having a conversation with an insurance broker is part of your planning process. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to EventInsure directly at event@bkifg.com or 1-800-463-6503. 

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