Hosting A Party? Make Sure You’re Covered

Posted On December 10, 2006

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You may be liable if party guests get crazy > The insurance industry notes that recent years have seen an increase in liability lawsuits holding hosts responsible for the actions of drunken party guests.

More than 47 million Americans will be hosting parties in their homes at which they will be serving alcohol, but most are in denial about the liability they could face if a guest is involved in an accident on the way home, according to a telephone survey of 1,000 people conducted for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 31 states have laws or court precedents that hold social alcohol servers liable as a third party to drunken driving crimes.

But when the survey researchers asked party hosts if they should be held liable when someone who drank at their home party is involved in an auto accident after leaving, less than one-third answered yes. And the largest category of survey participants believing they are not liable in these instances is those with household incomes of more than $75,000 per year. Yet it’s this population that will host the most holiday parties, the survey found.

“The general population apparently needs more information about social host liability issues, and all people need to be much more conscious about making sure they have proper liability coverage before hosting parties in their homes,” said Madelyn Flannagan, IIABA vice president of education and research. “If people are thinking these types of lawsuits can’t happen to them, they need to reconsider their vulnerability.”

The IIABA recommends that if you’re throwing a holiday gathering, protect your guests and yourself by de-emphasizing the drinking. The main attraction of the party should not be the consumption of alcohol.

Have nonalcoholic beverages available, and even consider providing a meal for your guests, not just a snack.

Don’t give a party on your own. Sharing the hosting duties with someone else can make it easier to monitor the condition of your guests, and gently take the car keys away and arrange alternate transportation if anyone has too much to drink.

Also, hosts should take the time to learn whether their homeowners’ insurance policies provide coverage if they are held liable for any party-related injuries or damage.

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