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Holiday Parties and Host Liquor Liability

November 21, 2017

With the holidays upon us, now is a great time to start planning ahead for parties and gatherings. If you plan on hosting a reception at your home, however, there are some serious potential liabilities to consider. Especially when serving alcohol.

Just as a bartender at a restaurant can be held legally accountable for over-serving a patron, you could also be accountable if you serve alcohol at an event and an incident subsequently occurs.

Fortunately, by planning ahead and making sure your home has the right insurance coverage, you can protect yourself and host a safe, enjoyable holiday party. 

What you will learn:

Preventing Liabilities Ahead of Time.

A little bit of foresight and planning can go a long way in avoiding trouble. So, in the weeks leading up to your holiday party, think about setting some ground rules.

For starters, be wary of hosting guests under the age of 21. Unfortunately, inviting younger guests opens up the possibility of underage drinking. If anything were to happen, you could be held responsible for furnishing alcohol to a minor, which is a serious legal liability. 

When sending out invitations to your party, you might also want to consider including a note mentioning that alcohol will be served and remind guests to drink responsibly. Provide a number to a local cab service on your invitations and or encourage ride sharing services like UBER.

Also, don't hesitate to guests who plan on drinking to leave their car keys in a safety box in exchange for a ticket. When they wish to leave, they have to approach the host(s) or an usher to retrieve their keys. That way, you can personally ensure that no one is getting into their cars intoxicated.

Reviewing Your Insurance Coverage.

Next, it's time to assess your insurance coverage; specifically, your homeowner's insurance policy. Check for what kind of protection you currently have for liability incidents on your property.

While home insurance generally provides some basic coverage (against slip-and-fall accidents, for example), purchasing additional host liquor liability insurance may be a better option.

Host liqour liability coverage is designed to protect you from financial damages associated with alcohol consumption at an event, including both property damage and bodily injury coverage.

This type of coverage can be purchased as a form of event insurance. Check with your insurance adviser to review your current coverage and determine whether or not this would be a smart addition for you based on the size and scope of your event.

More Tips for Safe Consumption.

Aside from having the right insurance and planning ahead to minimize risk as much as possible, there are a few more steps you can take to promote safe and responsible drinking at your event(s).

For starters, if you'll be hosting a cash bar with a full-service bartender, make sure your prices aren't set too low. Charging a moderate price for drinks will help keep consumption down. On the flipside, open/free bars or "self-serve" bar stations may some times encourage heavy drinking and increase your potential liability. 

Closing the bar at least an hour before the party ends is another a great way to cut off drinking before people start driving home. Don't bother making a "last call" announcement, as this can encourage someone to speed up their consumption before the bar closes.

A Moment of Reflection.

Hosting holiday parties is a great way to celebrate the season with family and friends. Just be sure to always encourage responsible drinking.

Talking with your adviser about host liquor liability will bring you peace of mind and protection. From there, everybody can have a fun and safe time.



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