The Winter Party Season is Here! Are Your Hospitality Clients Ready?

South Western Insurance Group Limited is one of Canada’s fastest-growing MGAs for the hospitality sector. The company offers an abundance of coverage options, and a wealth of extensions. And with winter party season looming, that is good news for restaurants, bars, and nightclubs alike. “Any establishment licensed to serve alcohol needs to be especially diligent during the holiday season,” says senior underwriter, Doreen Teoh. “Company parties, extended shopping hours, and a general inclination to celebrate means people tend to be out drinking a little more than at other times of the year.” As far as where this extra attention should be paid is concerned, the term “winter party” says it all. “The combination of winter weather conditions and seasonal parties can be hazardous when it comes to slip-and-fall claims, driving under the influence, and property damage related to physical altercations,” Teoh points out. So, what can hospitality clients do to prepare for the season ahead? “To help prevent slip-and-falls,” Teoh advises, “clients must be persistent about shovelling, sanding, and plowing entranceways, walkways, and parking areas. It may not always be within an establishment owner’s control to keep street parking or mall parking clear of ice and snow, but they should make an effort to contact their landlord or the city if the situation is not being seen to.” Hospitality staff should also take care to clean up broken glassware and mop up drink spillage as soon as it happens, to prevent injuries and slip-and-fall accidents. A wet floor, says Teoh, can be as perilous as an icy walkway. In terms of preventing and dealing with drunkenness, Teoh reminds restaurant and pub owners that it is up to them to take steps to control their patrons’ drinking. “If you or your staff see that someone is planning to drink, check that they have a designated driver and offer that guest coffee or soft drinks. If a guest becomes intoxicated while on your premises – and they have no designated driver - take away their keys, give them the number of a taxi, or offer to call a friend or taxi for them. Finally, if someone arrives at your establishment already under the influence, exert your right to not serve them alcohol or to deny them entry outright. It can be worth keeping extra bouncers or security on-site at this time of year.” Provision should also be made for offering first aid where required, Teoh adds. And establishment owners need to be smart about calling an ambulance if they suspect over-drinking, since alcohol poisoning is always a concern. The key take-away here, as Teoh sees it, is do not overserve. “To protect hospitality clients to the largest extent possible, our policies cover everything from bodily injury and property damage, to forcible ejection. But establishment owners need to do their part by ensuring staff are of age to serve alcohol, that they hold an equivalent to Ontario’s Smart Serve certification, and that they are being diligent about checking patron IDs and not serving underage guests.”