While our business is not really an off- or on-site catering facility, our health department permit categorizes us as a mobile catering business. In NY you must have liability insurance to sell food anywhere. For the most part we sell our stuff at farmer's markets and art and music fairs.
We carry $2 million general liability and $1 million specific incident and pay about $400/year. We feel it's a small price to pay for our protection against accidents and even potential trumped up lawsuits (not that our wonderful clients would do such a thing).
If you are considering not spending the money for liability insurance-read the following cautionary anecdote:
I once worked for a restaurant with a chef/owner who wanted to launch into off-site catering. He had many very wealthy clients who were only too happy to have him cater parties in their homes. One of these prominent clients hired him for a Christmas party at his fabulous home. While chef was cooking in the kitchen, the service personnel (at the direction of the client) set up the hot food in chafers on his dining room table. Unknown to anyone but the client, the table was a french antique circa 1800 or so, valued at about $200,000. The wait staff lit some sterno pots to keep the food in the chafers warm and set them directly on the table, consequently burning a nice row of little round disks on the table top. The client sued, we all lost our jobs when chef/owner lost his restaurant, house and shirt in the settlement and wound up having to declare bankruptcy. A measly $400/year in liability insurance premiums would have saved the situation.
Live and learn, I guess.
Get the insurance.