It's finally time to bring that goal of opening your own restaurant in Colorado to life, and you're excited to get rollin'. Don't hand out the menus just yet, though. Restaurant ownership can be super-rewarding, but things like potential lawsuits and other mishaps can seriously dilute the more appetizing parts.
It's all good though, we're here to help your restaurant get the restaurant insurance coverage it needs to succeed. Starting with the fundamentals, we'll dive deeper into the unique concerns of Colorado restaurateurs. And when you're ready for that next step, our independent insurance agents will help you seal the deal, answering any questions you have. So, let's jump on in.
What Is Restaurant Insurance?
In short, restaurant insurance is a policy designed to cover all the components involved in your restaurant, from your property and supplies to your employees and customers. Obviously, serving food to the public ties directly into concerns about protecting their health, but restaurant operation comes with many different risks that are important to consider before setting up shop.
What Type of Restaurant Insurance Do I Need in Colorado?
We'll break down the specific requirements for the Centennial State in just a moment, but first, we'll go over what coverage is generally needed for restaurant owners in EVERY state. A basic restaurant insurance policy typically includes the following:
- General liability: This protects against lawsuits related to injury or property damage done by the business, and it's mandatory. Food poisoning claims would fall under this category.
- Workers' compensation: If your employees become ill, get injured or die from a work-related incident, this aspect of the insurance will cover the financial ramifications. Coverage is mandatory in Colorado, as well as in most other states.
- Property insurance: This covers any damage to the physical building that houses your restaurant, in case of fire, etc. The type of cooking equipment your establishment uses will contribute to the risk of fire damage, and may influence the cost of your policy. Businesses with deep fryers that use grease, for example, are considered a higher risk.
Note: Restaurants with a drive-thru will have an extra property that needs coverage, and paved surfaces (like driveways) are not typically covered by general property insurance.
- Business income: A part of property insurance, this aspect covers the financial loss suffered while a business is closed due to fire damage or other disasters.
- Ordinance and law: Another part of property insurance, it covers the financial ramifications if your building is found to not be up to current state code. This coverage also applies in the event that you need to rebuild your restaurant, or if you're building one from the ground up, yourself. Handicap compliant features, fire safety equipment, and emergency exits are all factors, here.
- Boiler & machinery: Also known as "equipment insurance," it covers electric equipment in the building (e.g., AC units and boilers) that breaks down due to power surges, etc. Property insurance MAY cover this stuff, but not always.
- Spoilage: This coverage takes care of the replacement costs of food that spoils due to power outages caused by storms, surges, etc.
- Communicable disease: Covers any illnesses transmitted to customers due to improper hygiene of your employees.
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Optional Add-Ons for Restaurant Insurance in Colorado
It's all well and good to know the basics included in a standard restaurant insurance policy, but ultimately the package might not cover all of YOUR unique needs. Your independent insurance agent can easily identify the specific add-ons you'll need, but there's no harm in going over a few that you might end up with ahead of time. For starters, check these out:
- Commercial/business auto insurance: If you run a carry-out restaurant that makes deliveries, you'll want to look into getting coverage for your company vehicles for things like theft and vandalism. Your restaurant will also be held responsible for damage done by your driver while in a company vehicle. Food trucks will also need this coverage.
- Coverage for signage: This coverage protects your signage from things like weather and vandalism since it's not typically covered under regular property insurance. It's especially important for restaurants with a drive-thru, with all the extra signage that could be damaged due to distracted or impaired drivers, or vandalism.
- Art floater insurance: This option exists mainly for the bigger/fancier restaurants with artwork on display. Scheduling an appraisal for the specific pieces you want to cover is the first required step. In case of fire or even theft, this coverage can help prevent having to pay for the replacements out of pocket.
- Liquor liability insurance: While not mandatory, this coverage can fill in some important gaps. General liability will NOT protect you if your employees overserve a customer who ends up with a DUI or other alcohol-related charge. Coverage is more necessary for smaller restaurants, as chains tend to have stricter serving rules and training policies in place to prevent mishaps.
How Do Colorado's Dram Shop Laws Influence My Coverage Needs?
Dram shop laws hold a business liable for serving alcohol to minors, as well as for harm caused by an individual who has been overserved by that business — even after they leave your establishment. A state's specific laws and set of associated penalties/fines for violating them can influence your liquor liability coverage needs and the cost of your coverage. In Colorado, as well as most other states, a guest who sustains injuries to themselves due to over intoxication, may not sue the establishment, since it's considered the guest's personal responsibility to monitor how much they consume. So, liability coverage for first-party cases is mainly only required in the case that a minor is served since minors are not legally allowed to drink in any state.
However, third-party liability coverage is crucial. In the case that another individual is harmed by an intoxicated guest, such as in a bar fight or auto accident, they may sue your establishment. For these cases, the third party will need proof that the intoxicated guest continued to be intentionally served past the point of visible intoxication by your restaurant. Lawsuits can seriously cost you or your business, in the form of significant financial penalties, loss of employment or liquor license, or even jail sentences. Your agent will set you up with the proper liquor liability coverage based on Colorado's unique laws. They'll also explain the costs associated with each level of coverage.
Make Sure Your Restaurant Has Wildfire Coverage in Colorado
Colorado's known for its 300-ish annual days of sunshine, but all that energizing natural light mixed with the state's elevation also creates a problem . . . extreme dryness. As a result, the state's sadly prone to wildfires, as far as natural disasters go. So you'll need to be sure that your Colorado restaurant insurance includes coverage for wildfire damage. Ask your agent to double-check your policy to make sure that it lists wildfire protection, specifically. You'll want to have the proper coverage in place from the start so that those green chilis will be the ONLY things heating up your restaurant.
How Much Does Colorado Restaurant Insurance Cost?
It depends on what kind of restaurant you run and a few other factors, such as if you've got employees, offer a delivery service, operate a drive-thru or serve liquor. However, a typical range for coverage starts on the low end of about $10,000/year for a smaller establishment with fewer employees and hits the high end of more than $100,000/year for a much larger restaurant, like a chain.
A restaurant insurance policy is typically the cheapest and easiest way to go. This package offers most of the liability and property coverage you'll need, and you can always add on specifics as necessary. Your independent insurance agent will know exactly what to hook you up with.
What's the Safest/Cheapest Kind of Restaurant I Can Start?
Obviously, smaller is going to be cheaper. A food truck or corner stand downtown will be by far the cheapest option since there won't be as many sales as in a larger chain, there aren't any other employees (that would require workers' comp), and you won't be serving alcohol. Coverage costs would most likely be in the low thousands each year.
What's the Most Expensive/Riskiest Kind of Restaurant I Can Start?
On the other end of the spectrum, a large dine-in chain restaurant with tons of employees, features like a salad bar and buffet, and a liquor bar is by far the priciest/riskiest venture. All the required workers' comp, property, and liability insurance drive up costs exponentially. It ultimately depends on lots of specifics like the number of employees and the value of the property, of course, but we're talking BIG numbers, like more than $100,000 per year.
What's So Great About an Independent Insurance Agent?
Insurance policies are often filled with lots of technical jargon. Additionally, it's a real process to hunt for the RIGHT policy. Fortunately, sifting through the available options and pinpointing the necessary coverage is a task that can easily be handed off to someone else. That's where independent insurance agents come in to save the day.
Independent insurance agents will not only help you get the best possible deal, but also the type of coverage that's right for you. They shop and compare insurance quotes for you, and even break down all that complex jargon into plain old English, so you understand exactly what you're getting.
Finding/Comparing Colorado Restaurant Insurance Quotes
Our helpful independent insurance agents will help you determine which type of Colorado restaurant insurance makes the most sense for YOU. They'll also compare policies and quotes from several different insurance companies to make sure they're setting you up with protection that's among the best around. In other words, they'll make it happen.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin
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