Food vendor insurance refers to the types of coverage food vendors need to protect their businesses against financial loss from liability claims. The most common types of food vendor insurance are general liability and commercial property. Food vendor insurance costs start around $500–$800 annually and starts at $100 for single events.
Every type of food vendor has different food liability insurance needs. This is why using an online broker such as CoverWallet makes finding the right policy for the right price the smart solution for food vendors. Within minutes, get a free, no obligation quote from a top national carrier that understands your business risks and needs.
Food Vendor Insurance Providers
When buying food vendor insurance, you will find that national carriers typically specialize in certain types of vendors so they can offer slightly better pricing and protection. Food truck vendors face different risks than a concession stand. The right insurance carrier is easy to find once you know what your food vendor business needs are.
Top Food Vendor Insurance Providers
Food vendors and caterers working in a variety of events and concession scenarios
Food trucks with equipment and machinery affixed to the truck
Vendors working multiple events that need certificates of insurance
Specialized insurance coverage for small food vendor carts
Short-term coverage for occasional and part-time food vendors
Here are five of the top insurance providers that cover food vendors:
CoverWallet is an online business insurance broker with a quick and simple online application that can lead to instant approval and a policy that will protect your business against financial loss from liability and property claims. Available food vendor insurance types include vendor liability insurance, food truck insurance, and workers’ compensation.
CoverWallet is the right choice for food vendors who work in a variety of scenarios. They can use CoverWallet to shop for a policy with a top-rated national carrier that can properly cover a restaurant doing a one-day street fair or a food cart that branches out to corporate and family events.
Progressive Commercial is a branch of Progressive Insurance focused on small business insurance. Small business owners can obtain multiple policies including commercial auto, general liability, and workers’ compensation. The Progressive Advantage Business Program is more than one-stop insurance shopping; it provides 10% to 15% discounts to business owners who bundle multiple policies.
Progressive Commercial is the right choice for a food truck business with expensive food prep equipment permanently affixed to the vehicle. The company is nationally known as a reliable auto insurance provider, giving them an edge in providing the right types of policies for on-the-road food businesses including food trucks, ice cream trucks, and vending trucks.
Food Liability Insurance Program (FLIP) is a specialty broker that caters to food vendors in a variety of scenarios, including food trucks, concessionaires, and mobile carts. The Great American Insurance Group underwrites FLIP’s liability policies, which start at $299 for food liability insurance with an inland marine endorsement. FLIP doesn’t offer other types of food vendor insurance, but it does have a limited trailer liability endorsement to cover food trailers when they are detached from the tow vehicle.
FLIP is a great choice for a food business that works at multiple events and locations throughout the year. With no cost for a certificate of insurance (COI), the FLIP policy remains cost effective for the entire year, helping vendors meet coverage demands of event organizers. In many cases, FLIP provides coverage on the same day.
Insuremyfood is a small insurer compared to the large national providers, but they know the food vendor industry and offer insurance coverage in almost every state in the U.S. Their business was built on providing insurance to mobile food vendors and they serve several industries, including food trucks, food trailers, food carts, caterers, chefs, and manufacturers.
Insuremyfood is the right choice for food carts that operate as a regular business in consistent locations such as designated parks or street corners. Insuremyfood is able to quickly underwrite policies for business property valued under $35,000 and offers free certificates of insurance.
Nationwide is a national insurance provider for both personal and commercial insurance needs. This company offers food vendor insurance policies that include general liability, workers’ compensation, and business property. Nationwide is a preferred provider for sole proprietors who appreciate the personalized service with local agents for both business and personal insurance.
Nationwide is the right choice for a part-time food vendor who might maintain a booth at one or two events per year. It lets food vendors tailor coverage to their short-term events and offers separate coverage for business property on top of the general liability insurance.
How Food Vendor Liability Insurance Works
Food vendor liability insurance refers to various insurance policies and coverages that mobile food vendors, single event vendors, and concessionaires need. Food vendors work in a variety of locations, and each can have different risks for insurance. The weekly farmers market is a different risk than the concession stand at a major concert.
What Food Vendor Insurance Covers
Food vendor insurance must cover normal business risks, such as slip-and-fall general liability, as well as risks unique to food vendors. These include the potential for food-borne illnesses, spoilage due to equipment breakdown, liquor liability lawsuits, and the loss of expensive and essential business assets through theft or vandalism.
Consider these coverage areas to make sure you have the right vendor insurance coverage:
- Third-party injuries: A customer bends down to pick up his napkin and knocks himself unconscious by hitting his head on your food cart door.
- Public property damage: Your dolly rolls into someone’s car in the parking lot of an event.
- Food-borne illness: Your customer reports food poisoning after consuming your undercooked product.
- Liquor liability: A customer causes property damage or physical harm after consuming alcoholic beverages you sell (most cities and states require liquor licenses and permits).
- Theft and vandalism: You need to replace your supplies or food truck or cart after someone steals or vandalizes them.
- Auto accident: You or your employee is responsible for an accident that causes another person’s bodily injury and property damage while driving your company auto.
- Fire or water damage: You need to replace your supplies, inventory, and cart or truck after a fire or pipe bursting.
- Business interruption: You lose revenues due to equipment breakdown, theft, or another claim that prevents normal business operations.
Food Vendor Insurance Coverage Example
A hot dog vendor positions his cart at a busy downtown street corner for lunch and at a park where kids play in the late afternoon. He uses a cargo van to move his cart between locations and also keep extra supplies. Unfortunately, the driver took a tight turn without seeing a bicyclist, hitting him and damaging the bike.
The vendor’s commercial auto insurance is likely the first place the bicyclist will make a claim for his injuries and damaged bike. However, any excess monetary coverage over the auto insurance limits will be covered by his general liability policy. The vendor’s cart is only covered if he has an inland marine policy or commercial property insurance with an inland marine endorsement protecting his assets in transit.
Importance of Certificates of Insurance (COI)
A certificate of insurance is a form created by your insurance provider that lists the coverages (usually liability but sometimes also workers’ compensation and business property) your business has. It is dated and names any additional or named insureds who are covered by the policy.
Most vendors also need a certificate of liability insurance (COI) to provide evidence of liability insurance that is often required to get a business license or to sign contracts. An example of this is if you want to set up your food station at a county fair and the county requires a registration fee and evidence of liability insurance. Often, your COI is sufficient evidence.
Being able to get COIs quickly and inexpensively is imperative for food vendors since they don’t maintain a traditional brick-and-mortar location and must constantly demonstrate current insurance. When shopping for food vendor insurance, be sure to ask how COIs are provided and whether or not they cost money. A $25 COI fee adds up for a food vendor who needs a certificate for each of their 20 events during a year. Many insurance carriers are now providing online COI creation, but it is best to confirm this.
Who Food Vendor Liability Insurance Is Right For
Any business that sells food products to the public in non-traditional locations needs food vendor liability insurance. These locations may include concession stands, public sidewalks, and street fairs. The most common protection is general liability insurance, which pays for third-party bodily injury or property damage.
Some of the typical small businesses that buy food vendor liability insurance include:
- Food trucks
- Food trailers
- Food carts
- Personal and private chefs
Even restaurants that occasionally work community events need a special endorsement or policy to properly cover the risks of events and mobile operations.
Mobile Food Vendor Insurance Costs
Food vendor insurance costs range from $500 to $800 per year for most small businesses. If the vendor only needs general liability insurance, the overall cost is less compared to operations that require more coverage, such as commercial property, or that want a business owner’s policy (BOP) that bundles property and liability coverages.
Typical Food Truck Insurance Costs & Deductibles
$1.00 to $4.00 per $100 in payroll
If food vendors only need coverage for a single event, such as a food festival, general liability insurance averages about $100 for five to 10 days of coverage. Premiums are estimates and vary by provider, state, business size, and selected coverages. Some of the factors for determining your food vendor insurance costs are based on your coverage choices, such as the coverage limits and deductible, while others depend on details about your business, such as the amount of business property and locations you work.
Factors insurance companies use to determine food vendor insurance costs include:
- Type of business: The type of food you offer, and how it is cooked, stored, and where it is sold all affect your food vendor insurance costs.
- Location: Where you set up your business also affects premium. A food cart vendor on a high-crime street corner will have a different rate than a concessionaire positioned in a building with security, such as a concert hall.
- Value of business property: The more physical business assets you have to insure, the higher the premium is for commercial property insurance.
- Replacement cost vs actual cash value: Most property policies insure items for their replacement cost, but choosing their actual cash value saves money because you receive the depreciated value of your lost assets in a claim.
- Employee payroll: Workers’ compensation premiums are based on payroll costs and the type of work employees perform. Cooks typically have more risk than cashiers, so they cost more to insure.
- Coverage amount: While increasing liability limits or covered assets does increase premiums, it isn’t a direct correlation. Double coverage doesn’t mean double cost.
- Deductibles: Increasing deductibles reduces premium costs. Make sure you are able to afford a deductible in a claim before you finalize your policy.
Common Types of Food Vendor Insurance
Whether you are a mobile food vendor or own a food truck, you’ll need at least some form of business insurance. The most common type of food vendor insurance is commercial general liability. Some vendors also need commercial property and commercial auto insurance to protect the assets and vehicles used for the business.
Common Types of Food Vendor Insurance
Type of Insurance
What It Covers
Commercial General Liability
Expenses and legal fees resulting from third-party bodily injury or property damage
Repair or replacement costs for business-owned items, such as your cart, equipment, and inventory
Damage caused by or to business-owned vehicles including food trucks
Commercial General Liability
Commercial general liability is the primary insurance type that food vendors need, which is why it is sometimes called food vendor liability insurance. This protection is important when you work with the public because you may face allegations of third-party bodily injury or property damage. The costs associated with these, including related legal fees, are covered under general liability.
For example, if a customer bumps his head into your signage and needs stitches, your general liability insurer covers the medical and legal expenses if the customer sues you. Similarly, if the wind blows over your tent and damages a third-party’s vehicle, general liability pays to repair the damage and any related legal fees.
Commercial Property Insurance
Without your cart, equipment, or food station, you wouldn’t have your business, which is why commercial property insurance is important coverage for many food vendors. With this policy, you can repair or replace your business-owned property damaged by covered perils, such as fire, vandalism, theft, or extreme weather.
For example, if your food cart is stolen, your property coverage reimburses you for the loss, up to the policy limits. Commercial property insurance can also cover food spoilage, which is a real risk for many food vendors.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Commercial auto insurance covers third-party liability claims for bodily injury or property damage if you are held liable in a car accident. It can also include first-party protections, such as coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists and damage to your business-owned vehicles. It’s important to note that personal auto insurance will not cover a vehicle that is used primarily for business.
A good example where commercial auto insurance is needed is food trucks. When your greatest asset and your greatest risk exposure is associated with a commercial vehicle, you need to protect your investment with auto insurance. Personal auto insurance won’t cover you if you are using a vehicle for business purposes.
Food Vendors Insurance Business Owner’s Policy
Because there are so many policies that make up a food vendors insurance package, looking for ways to easily and cost-effectively manage insurance is important. As you consider the various types of policies you need, don’t overlook a business owner’s policy, which includes commercial general liability and commercial property insurance for as little as $250 annually.
Because the insurance carrier only needs to underwrite and service one policy, the cost of a BOP is usually less than buying the two policies separately. Some insurers even bundle inland marine and business interruption insurance in their BOPs. Remember, however, that BOPs don’t cover all of your risks. You may still need additional food vendor insurance policies such as workers’ compensation and commercial auto coverage.
Inland Marine Insurance
Mobile food vendors usually don’t have a fixed, brick-and-mortar location where they work so they need inland marine insurance to cover their valuable assets, such as equipment, tools, supplies, and inventory, while moving from one location to another. This is because commercial property insurance only covers items at the location listed on the policy.
Many insurers offer an inland marine endorsement you can add for pennies on the dollar compared to a standalone property policy or to a BOP. This protects things like equipment loss that could happen if a mobile generator is destroyed in a car accident while being transported from a home office to the festival location.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance
Equipment breakdown insurance pays for the repair and replacement of equipment and machinery vital to daily operations if damaged because of an internal malfunction. While inland marine covers the generator during transit, equipment breakdown replaces the generator if it overheats on a day warmer than 100 degrees Fahrenheit at a music festival, resulting in the inability to make or serve food because there is no power.
Equipment breakdown coverage is often added to existing commercial property policies. If you need an expensive or highly specialized piece of machinery for your food vendor business, you may need a standalone policy to cover that one item.
Most states require this coverage if you have employees. Workers’ compensation insurance provides benefits to your employees in the event of work-related injuries or illnesses. Small food vendor businesses that are owner-operated and have no employees aren’t usually required to have this coverage. Some insurance providers offer workers’ compensation for single events of between one and 10 days.
Employees for food vendor businesses can get injured in a number of ways, including slip-and-falls, burns, and cuts as well as muscle strains from lifting heavy items, such as boxes, equipment, and supplies. For example, if your employee slips and injures themselves while setting up your food station, workers’ compensation pays their medical bill and lost wages.
Tips on Applying for Mobile Food Vendor Insurance
There are different kinds of mobile food vendors, but applying for the right insurance coverage follows a similar process for each small business. Whether you operate your food business with a pop-up tent, a food cart, a food trailer, or a food truck, there is a small handful of pointers to know before you get quotes and apply.
Here are the three main things to know before you apply for mobile food vendor insurance:
Ask About Insurance Requirements for Events & Locations
Get the right coverage for any event you work by asking them for their insurance requirements, including coverage type, coverage limits, additional insureds, and coverage duration including setup and breakdown. Most fairs and festivals are scheduled months in advance and require vendor applications several weeks prior to the event.
Choose a Food Vendor Insurance Provider That Offers Free COIs
You’ll likely need to give event coordinators a certificate of liability insurance to prove you have sufficient liability coverage and have added the organizers as an “additional insured.” These are common requirements that reduce liability for the organizers. COIs can cost $25 each, so look for a provider that offers fast and free certifications.
Make Sure Food Insurance Covers Your Real Risks
Buying too little food business insurance for vendors is never a smart idea. You may hope you never have to use small business insurance products, but you’ll never regret having broad coverage if you do have to file a claim. Also, don’t assume one policy offers complete coverage. For example, if you have a food truck business, property insurance doesn’t cover the truck. For this, you need commercial auto insurance.
“A common mistake I see mobile food vendors make is having a premise-only policy, which means a policy like commercial property insurance that doesn’t follow you when you move locations. Mobile vendors, especially larger businesses like food trucks, are smart to have auto physical damage coverage or inland marine insurance. We recommend inland marine for equipment not attached to the truck by bolt. The truck itself and attached equipment are covered on the auto policy (comp and collision).”
– Joel Paprocki, Owner, Insuremyfood
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Understanding what type of insurance you need as a food vendor to protect your business and satisfy event requirements can be confusing. Below are the most common questions asked regarding food vendor insurance.
1. Do I need food vendor insurance coverage for a single event?
Food vendor insurance is usually required for any event, even a one-day event. The main coverage you’ll need is general liability insurance, which covers third-party bodily injury and property damage. For example, if a customer gets sick eating your food, general liability covers their medical bills and your legal fees if they sue.
2. Do I need food vendor liability insurance if I’m already insured?
Many restaurants set up booths or tents at food festivals. This often creates a need for additional insurance, depending on the business’ current coverage and the event requirements. Some restaurant insurance policies don’t allow for event coverage unless specifically noted and added as an endorsement because of the increased risk for food-borne illnesses.
3. If I start a full-time food vendor business, what types of insurance will I need?
The main type of food vendor insurance needed is commercial general liability insurance. This covers your primary risk exposures, such as a customer getting injured at your work site, a customer getting sick from your food, or damage caused by you to someone else’s property. Consider also insuring business property for theft, damage, or fire.
For small business owners in the food industry, getting the right insurance coverage isn’t just about protecting against liability claims or property damage. For many food vendors, insurance is a necessity to do business. To get licenses, permits, and contracts, food vendors often need to have sufficient liability coverage at the very least.
Fulfilling contract requirements and protecting your business interests are two different things. Insurance brokers such as CoverWallet understand both aspects of your food vendor business and will shop major insurance providers to get you the right coverage that you can afford. Get a fast, no obligation quote online in as little as five minutes.