Author: Independent Insurance Agent’s of America “Big-I” & Trusted Choice |
[Editorial Note: This material applies to any home event where liquor is hosted. Off-Premises events will be dealt with in a later post.]
The Trusted Choice® survey found that about one-third of homeowners did not think or did not know if they could be held responsible in the event of an alcohol-related accident. In fact, in many states, individuals hosting holiday parties can be held liable. Many courts have found hosts liable for the damages their party guests cause as a result of consuming alcohol at their social gatherings and then driving motor vehicles. Many states have also enacted statutes that can be interpreted as mandating non-commercial social host liability. In these situations, if a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to you, you could be held responsible for the payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and — in the worst case — claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.
Do Your Homework: When hosting a holiday party, individuals should look to the liability portion of their homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect them if they are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank at their home. Consumers should regularly review their liability coverage limits to ensure they are adequately covered should an accident occur.
Consider an Umbrella Policy: While holiday partygoers and hosts alike should act responsibly and know their limits, consumers need to acknowledge that most risks cannot be entirely eliminated. But planning ahead and learning about what’s involved in hosting a reception is the best defense. Purchasing a personal “umbrella” liability policy — providing $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit of a standard homeowners or renters policy — may be a prudent move for the frequent party host.
Consider the following tips to prevent holiday party accidents and protect yourself:
• Limit your guest list to those you know.
• Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather in a home or office.
• Provide filling food for guests and alternative non-alcoholic beverages.
• Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol. If the party centers around drinking, guests will likely drink more.
• Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
• Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.
• Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated.
• Consider hiring an off-duty police officer to discretely monitor guests’ sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.
• Stay alert, always remembering your responsibilities as a host.
• Review your insurance policy with your Trusted Choice® agent before the event to ensure that you have the proper liability