Bartending can be a blast—you get to interact with a wide variety of people, your services are always in demand, and you can flex your creativity through your mixology skills. The money you can make from tips certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
If you’re a freelance or mobile bartender, or if you’re considering getting into the industry, you know it’s not as simple as knowing how to make a great Bloody Mary or providing friendly, helpful service to your patrons. Bartending is a business, and as such it’s important to make sure your business is set up for success in every way possible.
Something that all successful bartending businesses have in common is that they are licensed and insured. Being licensed and insured is not only something you can advertise along with your services to prove you are a serious professional, but it can shield your business from the many risks associated with your industry.
If you’re wondering how you can accomplish all of this, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll discuss the differences between a bartender license and bartender insurance before walking you through the process of protecting your business with coverage.
Let’s dive in!
Getting Licensed vs. Getting Insured
This license legally permits you to serve alcohol to patrons as a bartender. In order to obtain one, you’ll go through a brief program endorsed by a state or federal liquor regulation board.
The cost depends on the state you live in, but generally speaking, you should expect to pay between $12–$35 for a bartender license.
There are many different online programs that allow you to obtain your bartender license quickly and easily, such as Learn2Serve®. In these programs, you’ll be trained on state and federal liquor laws, as well as how to responsibly serve alcohol.
Not all states require a bartender license, but some of the states that do include (but are not limited to):
- New Mexico
A bartender license shouldn’t be confused with a bartender certification, which requires hands-on training and demonstrates that you have real-life experience serving alcohol. Certifications are considered “nice to have” for bartenders, whereas you may be legally required to carry a bartender license depending on where you live.
Bartenders face unique risks that come with serving alcohol, and these risks can result in costly claims. Bartender insurance—also called liquor liability insurance—is designed to protect bartending businesses from having to pay out-of-pocket for liability claims.
Requirements for bartender insurance differ between states, but even if your state doesn’t require you to insure your bartending business it can still be financially beneficial for you to do so.
Why Bartenders Need Insurance
That’s where bartender insurance comes in. It’s a liability insurance plan designed to protect you from having to pay out-of-pocket if you get hit with claims like these.
Getting liquor liability coverage can save your business from financial catastrophe and allow you to keep doing what you love—making drinks and keeping patrons in good spirits.
How to Become an Insured Bartender
Insurance can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s take a look at what you need to do to insure your bartending business with Insurance Canopy.
Step 1: Compare Policies
When it comes to picking the right policy, it’s important to consider the needs of your business. Insurance Canopy offers two types of bartender insurance policies: annual and event.
- Annual: This policy starts at $35.42 per month and is best suited for businesses that serve liquor year-round.
- Event: For businesses that only need liquor liability coverage for a specific occasion, you can purchase event insurance starting at $275. This coverage lasts for up to three days, so even if your event is only one day long you can still be protected while you set up the day before and pack up the day after.
Step 2: Identify Your Coverage Needs
You need to have general liability coverage before purchasing liquor liability insurance. General liability insurance safeguards your business from claims relating to property damage and third-party bodily injury.
For example, if you’re bartending at an event and someone trips over your equipment, injures themselves, and sues you, general liability insurance could help you cover the cost.
However, it’s important to note that general liability insurance does not cover alcohol-related claims, which is why bartenders need to have liquor liability insurance as well. Insurance Canopy’s bartender insurance policy bundles general liability and liquor liability insurance to make it easier to protect your business.
Depending on the needs of your business, you may want to include additional policy options to make sure there are no gaps in your coverage, such as cyber liability insurance, which protects your business in the event your systems are hacked and your customer’s personal information is compromised.
Step 3: Know Your Limits
Before you move on to the application, consider how high your liquor liability coverage limits need to be. A limit is the maximum amount Insurance Canopy will pay out for something your policy covers.
In other words, if you file a claim that exceeds the limit on your policy, you will pay the difference out of pocket. The cost of your insurance will go up if you select higher limits, but you’ll also receive more coverage in case of a claim.
When filling out your application, you will be asked to choose between three different liquor liability coverage limits:
- $100,000 Occurrence / $300,000 Aggregate
- $250,000 Occurrence / $300,000 Aggregate
- $1,000,000 Occurrence / $2,000,000 Aggregate
The occurrence limit refers to the maximum amount Insurance Canopy will cover per claim, while the aggregate limit describes the total cost of claims that Insurance Canopy will cover throughout your one-year policy period.
Step 4: Complete the Application
Once you’ve assessed your coverage needs, it’s time to apply! The application process takes ten minutes or less, so you can get back to business straight away.
There are separate applications for the annual and event policies, but be prepared to provide the following information:
- Your business’ gross sales
- The state your business operates in
- Your liquor liability policy limits
- The start and end dates you need for your policy (event policy only)
- Your name, email, and business address
- Your bartender certificate (optional)
- Your business type (sole proprietor/individual, corporation, partnership/joint venture, or LLC)
- Your business’ name and phone number
- The number of participants at the event (event policy only)
- The name and contact information of any additional insureds you need to add (optional)
- Payment information
Once you’ve submitted your application and your payment has been processed, your coverage will be effective immediately! If you need to access your policy documents or add additional insureds, you can do so in the user portal.
Of course, if you have any questions before, during, or after the application process, you can always contact us—we’re happy to help!
Cheers to Your Peace of Mind!
We hope you found this to be a helpful guide on how you can become an insured bartender today! While getting insured and properly licensed may not be the most glamorous or enjoyable aspects of being a bartender, they are both important steps to making sure your business operates legally and safely, allowing you to keep mixing up tasty cocktails and perfecting your pour without worrying about claims.