Keeping the Festive in Your Beer Festival

While many breweries participate in festivals all year long, there’s something a little extra festive about this time of year — and we’re not just talking about the sudden outpouring of pumpkin-flavored ales! 
And there’s a lot of great reasons to organize and participate in festivals, which can be so much fun, and such powerful marketing vehicles. 
But it’s not all fun and beer-pouring, pointed out Richard Beall of Beall Brewery Insurance. “Navigating the local and state rules that regulate your festival, establishing practices to help protect participants from liquor liability claims and even obtaining necessary additional insurance coverage can all start to seem overwhelming,” he says. 
With that in mind, Beall Brewery Insurance offers these pointers to get you through your next festival safely. 
Before You Sign Up for a Beer Festival
• Be sure you understand how your host impacts your own rights and responsibilities. For instance, if a nonprofit hosts a beer festival, only that nonprofit can receive any portion of alcohol sales. Additionally, the brewery may not require employees to volunteer at the festival, nor can it pay employees to work the event. Requirements differ if, for instance, a management company hosts the event.
• Are you renting a vehicle — or are employees using their own vehicles — to transport product to a beer festival? Be sure your brewery insurance package includes hired and non-owned vehicles.
• Your liquor liability coverage may provide the protection you need in case festival-goers over imbibe and damage property, other people, or themselves. But be sure to properly train brewery employees working the event. They should be able to recognize the signs of intoxication. In addition, they should know how to stop service to an intoxicated person.
• Be sure to read the festival contract very carefully before signing. You don’t want a contractual obligation to cover risks that your brewery insurance doesn’t cover.
If You’re Organizing a Beer Festival
• Is your guild organizing a beer festival? Before proceeding too far with your planning, make sure you check on the Directors and Officers policy that protects your guild board members.
• Consider where you will hold the festival. If it will be at or near a brewpub, it’s possible its liability insurance may cover the festival.
• Do you need an Event Policy, or does your brewery insurance agent have other suggestions to ensure that your guild is protected?
• Remember that any company you contract with—for instance, a company providing portable bathrooms for the duration of the event—should add your organization to their insurance as an additional insured.
• Obtain certificates of insurance, adding your guild as an additional insured to general liability and business auto coverage, from all vendors that are not providing beer. (Your general liability and liquor liability policies should cover brewery participants.)
• Consider additional coverages such as damage to rented premises, medical expenses, and umbrella.
• Double and triple check your general liability and liquor liability coverage and costs for the event.
• Regarding liquor liability, which can be one of the most severe losses to hit a brewery, you should know the answers to these questions: 
– Does your state require sample tickets or tokens? 
– In your state, can you legally offer an unlimited number of samples for an entry fee? Or, if there is a limit on the number of samples included with admission, can you offer additional samples for sale?
– How big will your festival’s sample sizes be? How big is the glass?
– Will your festival include out-of-state breweries? More importantly, do beers not normally sold in your state require temporary registration?
– How will you prevent participating breweries from serving the underaged?
“Our number one tip? Go over the details of your event carefully with your brewery insurance agent,” said Kristian Beall, AAI, of Beall Brewery Insurance. “The last thing you want is for an incident to occur, and only then do you realize that you don’t really have enough coverage.”

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