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General liability insurance for food and beverage businesses

General liability insurance icon
General liability insurance
General liability insurance covers customer injuries, customer property damage, and related lawsuits. It is often required for commercial leases and contracts.

General liability protects against common risks

General liability insurance is often the first policy food and beverage business owners purchases. It provides protection against lawsuits, accidents, and oversights that might otherwise financially devastate your business. It is also required for most restaurant commercial leases. A policy provides liability coverage related to:

  • Customer injuries
  • Customer property damage
  • Host liquor liability
  • Advertising injuries, such as slander, libel, and copyright infringement

Bundle policies for better protection – and a discount

If your restaurant, bakery, or other food business is relatively small and low-risk, you may be able to bundle general liability insurance with commercial property insurance in a business owner's policy (BOP), which costs less than purchasing each policy separately. For greater protection, you can add endorsements to your general liability policy or BOP, such as:

Bars and other businesses that serve alcohol may need liquor liability insurance to meet state requirements or to obtain a liquor license. Start a free online application with Insureon to compare quotes and find out which policies are appropriate for your business.

What coverage can general liability provide for food and beverage businesses?

Customer injuries

Accidents can happen at any food or beverage business. When a customer gets hurt on your property, general liability insurance can pay for everything from an ambulance ride to the cost of a lawsuit if your business is sued. General liability insurance covers:

  • Legal defense fees
  • Medical expenses
  • Court-ordered judgments
  • Funeral expenses in fatal incidents

However, this policy does not protect your employees. For that, you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance.

Customer property damage

General liability insurance also protects you when customer property is damaged. If a server spills a drink on a customer’s laptop with important business documents, your general liability policy could help pay for:

  • Legal fees if you are sued
  • The cost of replacing the laptop
  • An out-of-court settlement

General liability insurance can also protect your food service business from off-site incidents. For example, if your business caters a corporate reception and your food-warming equipment starts a fire, any resulting lawsuits alleging property damage would be covered by your policy.

Host liquor liability

Though it won’t cover incidents at a bar or restaurant that regularly serves alcohol, general liability insurance includes host liquor liability insurance. This insurance covers bodily injury and property damage resulting from alcohol served at a social function. That includes a company party where you provide alcohol, or other events unrelated to the business’s profits.

Advertising injuries

You may think your restaurant’s advertising is unique, but if you inadvertently copy a competitor’s slogan, accidental advertising injuries are covered by general liability insurance. That includes:

  • Copyright infringement
  • Defamation, both libel (written) and slander (spoken)

If you use advertising or promotional materials to attract customers to your restaurant, food truck, catering business, or other food service business, you’ll want to make sure your insurance includes this protection.

Other important policies to consider

While general liability insurance covers many common risks faced by any food service business, it does not provide complete protection. Owners of restaurants, bars, delis, catering businesses, and other food businesses should also consider:

Business owner’s policy: This policy combines general liability insurance with commercial property insurance, typically at a discount. It protects against accidents involving customers and damage to your business property.

Commercial auto insurance: This policy is important for food and beverage businesses that regularly transport food or equipment. It can cover expenses related to accidents or damages involving vehicles owned by your business.

Workers’ compensation: This policy is required in most states for businesses with employees. It can cover medical expenses and partial lost wages if an employee is injured on the job.

Liquor liability insurance: This policy covers risks involved with serving alcohol, such as an intoxicated customer breaking another customer’s property or causing an injury.

Get free quotes and compare policies with Insureon

Are you ready to safeguard your food service business with general liability insurance? Complete Insureon’s free online application to compare quotes from leading U.S. insurance carriers. Once you find the right policy, you can begin coverage in less than 24 hours.

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General liability insurance
Food & beverage