common restaurant insurance claims

Restaurants come in numerous shapes and sizes. Although they may differ from each other in several ways, they have at least one thing in common: They all should be covered by insurance to protect against the risks that frequently befall food venues of all types. To prepare yourself for conversations with your insurer, review the list below for some of the more common insurance claims made by restaurant owners.

Property Damage

Unless your eating establishment is located in an area that is particularly susceptible to natural disasters, cooking accidents are the most threatening risk exposure for your property. That’s because food preparation generally involves grease, which can accumulate in the form of vapor and make the potential for fires much higher. Furthermore, grease can accumulate on the surfaces of grills and deep fat fryers. To lower serious fire risk, it’s crucial that you obtain hood and filter systems as well as automatic fire extinguishers.


By their very nature, restaurants are vulnerable to crime. Even though you probably have a restaurant POS that accepts credit card payments, there is usually a good amount of cash on hand since customers frequently pay with it. What’s more, you may have valuable bottles of wine or other alcoholic beverages in your stock room.

Finally, many venues, particularly sports- or art-oriented ones, feature expensive memorabilia or paintings on the walls to add to the ambiance. You can reduce the likelihood that your restaurant will be robbed by regularly monitoring your stock, keeping security cameras in good working order and even hiring security personnel.

Liability Claims

The most common liability claims filed against restaurant owners stem from trips and falls due to the prevalence of grease and water in the environment. In general, liability can be defined as losses that result in injury or damage to the property of a customer or staff member.

Guarding yourself against these claims involves several steps. Each of your employees should be thoroughly trained in all safety procedures. You should also regularly inspect your property, looking out for uneven flooring and slippery surfaces. Regularly review all safety protocols, making sure that everyone is as careful as possible when it comes to the handling of hot beverages or plates.

Products Liability

As a restaurant owner, claims by your guests that they experienced food poisoning or allergic reactions after eating in your establishment are probably your worst nightmare. Storing and properly labeling all foods as well as monitoring quality are your best strategies to lower the likelihood that these types of problems will arise.

Liquor Related Claims

Each state has its own specific policies that regulate who can be served alcohol and in what amount. It’s important that you are fully aware of these rules. Train any staff members according to your state specifications, particularly when it comes to determining customer intoxication. Learning about and implementing local sober driving incentives such as reduced-price taxi services is also a prudent way to minimize the chances of these types of claims.

Business Auto Claims

This applies to you if your employees use their own personal vehicles to conduct work-related tasks such as food delivery. If you provide valet parking, there is also the potential that customer vehicles can be damaged while they are being parked or returned to the customer. To protect yourself from these claims, be sure to check the driving records of any employees who are using their vehicles to do business-related work. If you contract out services such as valet parking, be sure you are listed as an “additional insured” on your contractor’s policy.

Workers’ Compensation

These claims are filed against you if one of your employees is hurt on the job. In the case of restaurants, slips and falls, cuts, burns and strains from heavy lifting are the most common culprits. Proactive staff training is your best preventive strategy. Since the restaurant industry’s staff turnover rate is traditionally very high, be sure that even the newest employees receive safety-related instruction before they begin their duties.

Claims of Reputational Harm

Libel, slander and claims that you have violated privacy might seem more likely to be filed against businesses of other types. However, restaurants are not immune. You could, for instance, be sued for copyright violation if your advertisements or website used images that legally belong to someone else. Furthermore, one of your competitors could accuse you of slander or libel if you make false claims or accusations against them. Because word of mouth is one of the most effective ways that you can either attract new customers or discourage them from ever trying your restaurant, it is vital that you do everything you can to protect your good name and reputation.

In general, running any restaurant involves a certain number of predictable risks. On top of those, your establishment may have unique traits that make you especially vulnerable to other insurance claim situations. That’s why it makes sense to take some time to speak to your insurance agent about your specific business. Only then can you obtain the comprehensive coverage you need to protect yourself and the restaurant you have worked so hard to build.