We work with many commercial vessels in all types of operations. Passenger passengers will often serve wine with a meal or even sell beer during a two-hour day excursion. Depending on your operation, you may want to look into a separate liquor liability policy to cover your business after passengers get off your boat.

Standard unendorsed protection and indemnity polices do not exclude liquor claims. This is something that I have heard many times from my underwriters. They tell me the policy is to remain silent on liquor. That means it is not expressly excluded. What we do see occasionally is a sub limit on the liability. This depends on what type of cruise an operator is selling. Is it a booze cruise with all you can drink for two hours? Chances are you will see either a sub limit or an all-out liquor exclusion. Is it a seven-day cruise with wine served at dinner? Chances are your policy will not exclude it. 

But what about when passengers step off your boat? You may have limited coverage while they are on the gangway or dock. You can add an extension to the P&I policy to include coverage for this area. You may have coverage while they are walking through a coastal village exploring the town. Insurers can add to extend liability to shore trips included in the normal activities of their cruise. But what about when passengers leave your boat and get into their vehicle and drive off? P&I coverage just ended.

A liquor liability policy will fill this potential coverage gap. The scenario is all too familiar. A person consumes too much on a trip, drives off and commits vehicular manslaughter. If you are dragged into the claim, your liquor liability policy will provide coverage for not only any liability placed upon you but also the defense costs.

When underwriting vessels where alcohol is served, insurers what to know what type of training crewmembers have in terms of alcohol awareness. Getting crews certified in TIPS alcohol training (Training for Intervention Procedures) is a good start and may help prevent a costly claim. Many boats we work with will often have an event catered by a third party. In this case we ask our client to obtain a certificate of insurance from the caterer showing liquor liability and to be named as additional insured.


Chris Richmond is a licensed mariner and marine insurance agent with Allen Insurance and Financial. He can be reached at 800-439-4311 or [email protected]