Brewery Insurance: General Liability

How General Liability Works for Your Brewery

Liability is one of the least understood parts of insurance, and general liability is generally as misunderstood as yeast is to a newbie beer bro.

“I guess yeast is a cool ingredient or whatever, but what about the hops man? I love hops.”

So what the heck is General Liability insurance, why do you need it, and what does it do for your beer-obsessed business?

It’s easier to think of it as a catch-all piece of protection that covers your brewery, brewpub or bar so that any legal obligation you may have is covered. It doesn’t cover your stuff (like your fermenters, mash tun, kitchen equipment or the building itself), or if people get hurt due to drinking (that’s liquor liability).

But this isn’t an article on what this doesn’t cover. So let’s dig into exactly what General Liability is and why it’s kind of amazing.

The Basics

Man dragging kegs over a wet ground and risking a General Liability claim.

General Liability covers you from a lot of the things that can make you stay up at night in cold sweats. GL is designed to help you from things you are responsible (liable) for if you are found negligent.

It protects you from:

Premises Liability protects you from a situation where someone is hurt or injured on your property. Tripping over a hose while on a brewery tour, slipping on ice in the parking lot, or even having a barrel display falling and hitting someone, all of these are examples of ways people can be hurt while at your brewery.

If you’re a brewery owner, you’re probably thinking of all of the hard-to-see steps, tangles of cords, precariously stacked kegs or that somehow-always-slippery-spot on your floor.

You do your part to make sure that your brewery, front-of-house, and bar are the neatest, cleanest, safest places they can possibly be – and we’ll handle the rest. That’s what insurance is for, stepping up if something does happen and help you survive the aftermath.

Personal and Advertising Injury¬†is a coverage that always sounds like a joke to people, but it’s deadly serious – especially now with social media.

Put simply, this coverage protects you from saying something false about another business in an ad, publication, or social media post. Depending on the situation, the resulting lawsuit could be for things like libel, slander, invasion of privacy, or copyright infringement.

Think this can’t happen to you? What if one of your brew staff (after a few “quality tests”) gets on your brewery’s social media account and says, “Our neighbor Blah Blah Brewery has a bacterial infection hahaha.”

Or if you or a business partner accidentally let a piece of personal gossip slip out while doing an interview with a prominent brewery blog, causing huge problems with an until-then friendly brewery in your town.

This used to be a very specific kind of risk, based around print media. But with the internet and now living our entire lives online, a slip of the tongue or a rage-post can result in a lawsuit.

Fortunately, your General Liability policy can save you from an accidental disaster.

Legally Protected

Beers on a pallet at a brewery

Now that you have a better idea of what General Liability insurance covers you from, you probably can see how it helps. Essentially, it protects you from lawsuits and injuries to people on your property.

Legal Protection is one of the most important types of coverage that you have. GL can help pay for legal expenses, court costs, and any damages that may come out of the case – depending on your limits.

If you have $1,000,000 in General Liability coverage, and you are sued and found negligent in an accident that permanently debilitates a customer, you could easily exceed that limit and have to pay out of pocket.

Limits of up to $10,000,000 are not uncommon.

Medical Expenses coverage is the other primary way your General Liability policy helps keep you in business. As we all know, medical bills have become increasingly high, and limits that were more than adequate in the past are now all too often reached through a simple claim from someone slipping on a floor.

If you combine the two into one claim, a lower limit could be disastrous.

Make sure you check out your limit on your current policy and see what it is. Then do a simple check:

  1. Imagine an injury that could happen in your brewery (a slip or fall is the most common).
  2. Do a worst-case scenario from that accident.
  3. How long could that person be under medical care? What would the cost be?
  4. And what would the possible lawsuit costs be? If you won and only had to pay court and lawyer fees? If you lost?

Compare that to your limit and see where you stand.

What General Liability Does Not Cover

Beers on a table

There are a few important things that GL does NOT do. Let’s check them out.

First, General Liability does NOT cover Liquor Liability. LL is for accidents involving customers that your business has served that get involved in inebriated accidents, like drunk driving, fights, slips, falls, etc. If they can prove that you overserved them, then they can sue you – and Liquor Liability is what protects you.

Secondly, Contamination & Adulteration coverage is not a part of GL. This piece of protection is for when you mess up a batch and have to dump it or worse, accidentally serve it. It is separate and needs to be added elsewhere in your Brewery Insurance package.

And, obviously, your Property Coverage is not a part of General Liability. Your buildings, the equipment inside, anything physical that can be damaged or replaced is not protected by liability. Don’t worry, Property Coverage is a part of your larger Brewery Insurance package policy.

Do You Have the Right GL?

Man holding beer in brewery

You may immediately say, “Yes! My agent is the best. I’m just reading this out of my love and curiosity for insurance products!”

More likely, you’re not sure. You’re here to get a little knowledge, get a little help, and make sure the business you’ve worked so hard to build is safe.

Let us help! We love the brewery business and have some amazing partners when it comes to Brewery Insurance policies – Philadelphia, Nationwide, Auto-Owners, and Travelers to name a few.

We also have experience in the alcohol industry, with one agent serving as a beer, wine and spirits rep for years out on the West Coast.

If you’re curious, why not give us a call or fill out the form below. Let’s have a conversation about how we can make your brewery better than ever.


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