Before you get into the legalities of serving alcohol, think about what your community wants. Some folks have strong feelings about having no alcohol at an event, while others feel it adds a nice touch to an adults-only event. So, ask around and get a feel for what your parents would be comfortable with.
Next, find out whether you need a license to serve alcohol. Check with your town clerk’s office to find out if this is necessary and ask whether the town issues one-time liquor licenses. Some communities issue this type of license to charitable organizations (like PTOs) for a special event. An alternative is to plan your event at a restaurant or club in your community that has its own liquor license.
If you plan to serve alcohol, check to see what is and isn’t covered under your current insurance policy. If you don’t currently have insurance, it’s a good idea to give that consideration now, not just to cover alcohol but also to help protect your group throughout the year. PTOs are able to get insurance through PTO Today.
You may have a general liability policy and need to pick up additional liquor liability insurance. For example, say your PTO is hosting an event at a local restaurant. Your group will not be selling the liquor; the host (restaurant) is actually providing it. In this case, your PTO may be covered by your general liability policy. But, don’t assume. Many other factors, including the size of the event, can come into play.
If you have insurance through PTO Today, your best bet is to fill out a short form we have on our site requesting liquor liability insurance. In this form, you briefly explain the details of your event (will food also be served, when will the liquor be served, number of attendees, etc.). The insurance carrier will review this and determine whether additional coverage is needed.
The bottom line is it’s best to check about liquor liability before your event. And try to check in at least a week ahead of time in the event that you need to purchase the additional coverage.
It makes sense to get this resolved so you can relax and everyone can have a fun and safe time at your event.
For general information on our insurance, we have a helpful section on frequently asked questions.
Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly.