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Taverns Education: Importance of Security Video

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Taverns Education: Importance of Security Video

By Glen Norton
Senior Loss Control Representative
Illinois Casualty Company

A picture can tell a thousand words. If that is the case, then how many words does a video tell? An important tool for business to have is a security video system. In this article we will dive into why security video is important and why just having a video system is not enough.

As a Loss Control Representative, I check for security video systems at each location I visit. During my meeting with the insured I go over their security video system or lack thereof. A business owner may have cameras in place to monitor employees and protect themselves against employee dishonesty. It is not uncommon to find a business that has one camera, and that camera is typically pointing down towards the cash register. While it is great that they have a camera in place directly over the cash register, there are many more reasons to have cameras spread throughout the business and premise. In discussions with the insured I like to explain that having cameras spread out to cover the building inside and out from multiple angles not only may protect them against employee dishonesty but from an array of potential claims and lawsuits.

A security video system may catch on video what actually happened in the event of an incident. A small sample of what can be caught on video includes:

  • Slip and falls – Did the claimant actually slip and fall? What did they slip and fall on? Was something noticeable on the floor?
  • Altercations – Who threw the first punch? What lead up to the fight?
  • Employee actions – Rarely does the claimant’s description of the events match what actually happened.
  • Dram shop liability involving an allegedly intoxicated person (AIP) – Did the insured serve the AIP? How many drinks were served to the AIP? Was the AIP showing any signs of intoxication on the video?
  • How quickly an employee responded – Were the employee’s actions reasonable given the specific situation?

Having a security video system is important however it does not stop there. When I find out the business has a system in place, I do not just check a box and move on. A business can have the most state-of-the-art security video system on the market but if no one in the business knows how to operate the system then it is useless. The basic follow up question to having a security video system is “In the event of an incident do you know how to pull / save the video?” Typically, I will find out yes, they know how to do that or they “have a person” that does. During the walk through we also look for a system monitor. The monitor will show what areas the video is capturing, and if the system is generally operational.

There is a huge market for security video systems. The types of systems vary greatly. Older systems may record in black and white to a VHS tape that is recorded over daily. Average systems keep video on a DVR for 7-14 days. Newer and more advanced systems can save video to the “Cloud” or may have 1TB hard drive that can save continuous video for more than 30 days. The true value of the video security is having it available at the time a claim is presented. A claim may be presented up to two years following an incident and up to five years after in some jurisdictions. It is vital to save important recorded incidents to have them available when a claim is presented.

When Loss Control asks the insured if they have a security video system, the quick response is often “yes.” Having a video security system is not in itself enough to assist in the defense of accidents and claims. Specific knowledge on how to retain the video evidence is the key.


Illinois Casualty Company is the exclusive preferred vendor of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. The Association encourages tavern, bar, licensed restaurants, and clubs to consider ICC for your business insurances. Coverage options include liquor liability, property, general liability, umbrella, and workers compensation. Qualifying Members can save up to 10% on their businessowners and liquor liability insurance. To find out more about our insurance programs and to locate an agent in your area, visit


This story was originally published in the ICC Quarterly, 1Q 2022. It was republished in the June 2022 edition of Pennsylvania Beverage Media with permission. Pennsylvania Beverage Media is a benefit of Membership in the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. If you’re not a Member, please consider joining today by clicking here or consider making a donation to support our Association by clicking here.

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