We all attend social functions from time to time, and occasionally it’s our turn to play host. From wedding showers to housewarmings, holiday parties and neighborhood gatherings, we’ve all hosted social events in our home, and it’s not uncommon for alcohol to be served during these get-togethers.
When hosting parties and events, however, the host is responsible for much more than just the food, drinks and atmosphere. They’re also responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their guests, and that’s something alcohol can easily compromise if abused.
With this in mind, it’s crucial for a host to understand what exactly he or she is responsible for when alcohol is involved.
Laws regarding a host’s liability to his or her guests when alcohol is served varies by state. In some states, the host carries no burden of liability to his or her guests when serving alcohol in his or her home. In other states, the host is only at risk if he or she deliberately and recklessly over-serves a guest who then causes harm to himself or another guest, or gets behind the wheel of a car and causes an accident or destroys or damages property.
Ultimately, the one law that is universal across all states and jurisdictions regarding liability of a social host is the illegality of serving alcohol to a minor. Still, 37 of 50 states in the U.S. have some form of social host law in place, meaning hosts carry some amount of liability in most parts of the country.
Although the focus of your party should be on entertaining your guest and making sure they have a good time, there are many things you can do to make sure your guests are safe and lessen the possibility that you’ll be held responsible for a guest’s actions after drinking too much.
Many states impose liability when an employer hosts an event for a business-related purpose. While laws vary greatly, state to state, an employer host generally has a greater duty to his/her employee guests. This is due to the feeling that an employee feels obligated to attend an office party or other business-related event.
Some, but not all, homeowner’s insurance policies will provide coverage when social host laws come into play, but many times the result of social host cases will exceed the limit of a homeowner’s policy. It might be a good idea to have a personal umbrella policy in place. A personal umbrella policy will supplement your other personal insurance policies, like home and auto insurance, and will go into effect when the liability limits on those policies are reached.
Essentially, it’s an insurance policy on top of your other insurance policies, and it will ensure that even if social host laws exhaust your homeowner’s policy, you won’t pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for the reckless behavior of a guest in your home. An umbrella policy is often very affordable, usually costing policyholders less than $1 per day.
Our experienced professionals are always happy to review your insurance policies and make suggestions to protect you, your property, and loved ones, while limiting your exposures. Contact us today. Remember…A little prevention can go a long way and may even save someone’s life.