Insurance for supper clubs and other home catering businesses
Blending the most piquant elements of dinner parties and restaurants, supper clubs are a pop-up restaurant concept becoming increasingly popular in the capital and beyond. But whether you’re inspired to throw open your doors to fellow foodies with your own supper club, or whip up delicacies in the homes of others with a catering company, you’ll soon discover that a lot of work and a whole load of business considerations come with a home catering business. Every start-up founder needs to consider the financial and legal implications of their venture, and insurance should be near the top of the list.
Culinary entrepreneurs are often attracted to home catering because it affords a lot of flexibility; it can be pursued by anyone from the keen amateur to the professionally trained chef, and can fit in with other work and commitments. Besides flexibility, control over your business’ direction and success is also part of the package, but in order to keep control you need to be protected against potential problems. Kitchens can be particularly hazardous places, and serving food to members of the public also comes with a number of specific risks.
Why do I need public liability insurance?
Home catering businesses such as supper clubs need to consider public liability insurance as a key cover. If someone visits your supper club and trips over a rug in the hall, or a guest is burnt by the spillage of hot liquid from a precariously placed pot, you could find yourself liable to pay hefty compensation claims if found responsible. If you visit clients’ homes as part of a catering service and accidentally damage their property, for example by spilling food and staining the carpet, or by causing a fire in the kitchen, then compensation claims could also be covered by this insurance.
Food poisoning can blight the dining rooms of even Michelin starred chefs, and the correct catering insurance policy should also cover food poisoning compensation claims under the public liability section.
Employers' liability insurance
When you first purchase your supper club insurance or catering insurance policy, it’s likely you’re just starting up and are working alone. However, if you find yourself catering for a large event or have people queuing round the block for a table at one of your supper club events in future, you might find that you needed to employ some extra hands. In this case, the law requires you to take out an employers’ liability insurance policy, to cover any claims that an employee makes for injury or illness they suffer as a result of their work.
What’s not covered?
Other insurance covers that may be important for your business include equipment and stock cover, cover for loss of income, and vehicle cover. If you’re hosting people in your own home, you should also make sure your home buildings and contents policies are in place and up to date.
What should I check when buying public liability insurance?
Part of the attraction of supper clubs is their underground nature, but this also means that there can be some grey areas and uncertainties when it comes to definition. Guests make a donation rather than being explicitly charged for the food they consume, and they drink their own alcohol rather than buying it from their host; in their unofficial nature there is still a hint of the supper club’s prohibition-era speakeasy roots. Although this marks supper clubs out as different to restaurants, many of the risks faced by fully-fledged restaurants apply to supper clubs too, and so securing insurance cover is both paramount and potentially a little complex.
Think about the risks peculiar to your business – will you be catering in your home or visiting clients’ houses? Will you be employing anyone? Will your guests have access to the kitchen or other parts of your house? Are you serving food that could potentially cause illness, such as seafood?
As Simply Business insures lots of small businesses and start-ups, we’ve dealt with a number of home catering ventures such as supper clubs recently. We understand that many of the risks faced by supper clubs are similar to those faced by restaurants, but that the number of guests and frequency of open evenings are typically far lower. We are able to tailor policies to take this into account, using restaurant insurance as a starting point, but usually lowering the premium as appropriate. Insurers are likely to require that you demonstrate awareness of minimum food hygiene standards, for instance by having completed a course or by having some previous professional catering experience in order to cover you. They may also want to know that some level of risk management is being considered, regarding the suitability of the premises where you’re hosting your guests.
Once you know you’ve got your business and your customers securely backed up, you can get on with serving morsels of pea puree atop pearly scallops or buttery risotto studded with wild mushrooms, knowing that you’re fully covered for any culinary mishaps.