Protect Yourself When Hosting a Party

Do you know who is liable if a holiday guest gets food poisoning, drives home drunk or gets hurt in your home? Very likely YOU.

Many of us host and attend holiday parties and most are unaware of the risks they are taking.

Party hosts need to understand their responsibilities when inviting people into their homes and serving food and drinks.

If you’re hosting a holiday party, make sure you follow these important safety tips:

  • Do your homework. When hosting a holiday party, look to the liability portion of your homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect you if you are sued and found liable for an accident.
  • Watch what you eat and feed others. Even if food was prepared outside your home by a caterer, another guest or local deli, you could be held liable if someone becomes ill from consuming it on your property. Make sure that you check food and don’t put anything out that you suspect may be under-cooked, spoiled or contaminated.
  • Know your state laws and statutes. In many states, party hosts can be held liable if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related accident. Property owners who provide alcohol to minors may be held liable for any injuries these minors cause, whether it is to themselves, or to another person.
  • Mix up the activities, not just cocktails. If the party centers on drinking, guests will likely drink more. Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol. Provide safe, filling food for guests and alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
  • Party elsewhere. Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather than in a home or office, to decrease your liability.
  • Call a cab, get a room or have a slumber party. Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
  • Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end. Stay alert and always remember your responsibilities as a host.
  • Consider an umbrella policy. 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.
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