Holiday Parties and Liquor Liability

December 14, 2011 at 8:46 AM | Posted in Event Planning, Home, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance | Leave a comment
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‘Tis the season to be jolly, and letting your guests get too jolly could result in your dealing with a lawsuit.

Under what is known as “social host laws,” individuals who serve alcohol may be found liable if a guest who was drinking in their home is later involved in a car accident. When serving any type of alcoholic beverage and someone leaves your party and gets in an accident, you will be named in the lawsuit. Make sure you are properly covered:

  • Review your homeowners, renters, or condo owners insurance policy, or discuss it with your agent before you send out the invitations. Make sure it provides Personal Liability coverage, specifically Host Liquor Liability.
  • Consider obtaining an umbrella liability policy to supplement your Homeowners coverage. Example: If your homeowners coverage limit is $300,000, an umbrella liability policy would kick in once that $300,000 is used up. Umbrella policies typically start at $1,000,000 in coverage for a rather modest premium, and go up from there.
  • Whenever you are serving alcohol, be responsible and take a few common-sense precautions:
    • Limit your guest list to people you know well, and avoid serving to strangers.
    • Before the festivities get under way, let guests know you’ll provide transportation home if their behavior seems questionable.
    • Only serve party-goers who you know are over the legal drinking age of 21.
    • Stay sober and serve the drinks yourself, so you know which guests are reaching their limit.
    • You may want to consider hiring a professional catering firm to manage the bar. If you do, obtain proof that they have the proper liquor liability coverage in place.
    • Have plenty of food available, so guests aren’t drinking on an empty stomach.
    • Close the bar at least an hour before people will be leaving.
    • If a significant number of young people will be attending a party at which liquor is being consumed, have them turn in their car keys as they enter and only return them when you are confident they have not been drinking.
  • Finally, if an incident does occur, notify your insurer right away. Some policies will exclude claims if you didn’t provide “timely notice.”

Call us at 888-850-9400 if you have any questions on your coverage.

Have a safe and happy Holiday Season!

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