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Surging insurance costs hitting embattled B.C. bars, restaurants during pandemic

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Summary

Bars and restaurants with liquor licences are seeing increasing insurance costs of 30 to 60 per cent: industry group

With revenues down an average of 50 per cent during the pandemic, some businesses could go under

Some establishments can't even get insurance and are having to go without coverage, Alliance of Beverage Licensee says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Local bars and restaurants continue to struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic as surging insurance costs are adding yet another challenge to a battered industry.

Bars and restaurants with liquor licences are seeing insurance costs increase 30 to 60 per cent, even with shared programs, according to Jeff Guignard, with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

“There’s a place downtown, a couple years ago, they paid $20,000 a year for insurance. Two years ago, it was 40. Last year, it was 80, and they were quoted $155,000 for insurance this year,” he said.

“I’ve heard terrifying numbers out there of, you know, 50, 100, and even 200 per cent. Our organization has a program — we work with an insurance provider and pool our members together. But even that has not been sufficient.”

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Given revenues are down an average of 50 per cent during the pandemic, Guignard figures some businesses will go under.

“It’s not sustainable,” he added.

“There are a lot of businesses that have chosen to stay closed for this period because it’s cheaper for them not to operate. That means they can’t keep their staff on payroll. It means they’re trying to figure out how to pay rent. It’s incredibly stressful for these owners and it’s going to force some owners into insolvency.”

Guignard said the situation is so desperate, some establishments can’t even get insurance and are having to go without coverage.

He said one solution could be to get ICBC involved, which he’d like to discuss with the provincial government after the Oct. 24 election.