The holiday season is here, and to help you prepare for all the upcoming festivities, we, at Deland, Gibson, are revisiting one of most inquired-about topics – host liquor liability. With the arrival of the holiday season each year, hosting a gathering or party with friends and family can be awfully appealing. However, holiday parties are not without a certain number of risks and concerns, specifically when it comes to serving alcohol.
A question that we at Deland, Gibson often get asked this time of year is, “What is the liability involved with hosting a holiday party, and does my homeowners insurance cover host liquor liability?” The short answer is that it can depend on the policy, but consumers may often find themselves interested in pursuing additional liquor liability insurance. There are several nuances here regarding host liquor liability, but you will be better armed to manage your holiday party or similar event by the end of this article. So, let’s dive into the subject of host liquor liability and review topic considerations, how host liquor liability works, and any updates for the 2023/24 holiday season.
The Concerns for Hosting a Party with Liquor
When planning a holiday event at your home, particularly one where alcohol will be served, brushing up on the various risks associated is well worth your time. As we alluded to above, while homeowners insurance can begin to cover many of the risks associated with a social gathering, having the proper protection in place for your party or event can dramatically reduce risk and provide peace of mind.
Damage to the Household
One of the primary concerns hosts have is whether their home is protected in the case of an incident. While homeowners insurance generally covers damage to the house that may occur from the guests on the premises, it is essential that you review your policy as there may be exclusions. Specifically, many homeowners insurance policies include exclusions for situations where a host is serving alcohol, which often changes the risk profile. Therefore, coverage-wise, a party that includes alcohol may look very different from a gathering that does not. Reviewing your policy and any exclusions is a great first step in preparing your home for an event.
Personal Injury Protection
It is common practice for a homeowners policy to include protections for the host in the case that a guest becomes injured on the premises. The goal of injury protection under homeowners policies is to protect the host from legal liability in the case of an injury where they are found to be at fault. However, again when the serving of alcohol is introduced into the equation, the coverage may not be sufficient. As the host, the serving of liquor can alter whether or not the host is sufficiently covered by the policy. Again, this highlights the importance of reviewing your policy prior to hosting an event.
Concerns With Drinking & Driving
A major concern with hosting holiday parties where alcohol is served is the host liability for guests that may drink and drive. Should a guest drink at your party and have an accident while driving, the host could be found liable by either the guest themselves or a third party if involved in the accident. In the event that a third party was injured in an accident where the responsible party had been served alcohol, the third party could pursue damages against the host as the one responsible for serving the driver alcohol. As the host of the party where alcohol was served, this can present a significant risk and a liability that your homeowner’s insurance may not cover.
Over 33% of automobile accidents that occur in the holiday season involve an intoxicated driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Board. Furthermore, in the United States, the automobile accident fatality rate is 5x higher on New Year’s Eve, making it the deadliest day for alcohol-related crashes.
In a situation where you may be charging for alcohol, this is entirely different, and your Host Liquor may not apply. It is important to contact your DG representative for more information on this situation.
Host Liquor Liability Insurance & How It Works
As discussed above, there are a number of different concerns to factor in when considering hosting a party or gathering where alcohol is served. But, with the correct information and approach, you can better prepare for hosting a gathering at your home. Here is what you need to know about adding extra protection for your event.
A question we often hear is, “What is host liquor liability?” Specifically, this means that the host of a gathering or party where alcohol is served can be held liable for any damages (bodily or property and involving third parties) that arise as a result of the event. Simply put, the host is understood to be responsible.
However, a few different insurance avenues can help mitigate the risk associated with hosting a party: Social Host Liquor Liability Insurance, Liquor Liability Insurance, and an Umbrella Insurance Policy can all help reduce risk.
- Social Host Liability Insurance is a short-term policy that can be put in place to help add extra coverage and protection for the party’s host. This type of short-term policy can help supplement the homeowners insurance and provide extra coverage related to the serving of alcohol.
- Liquor Liability Insurance is a short-term commercial policy that hired professionals should hold when serving alcohol. If you are hiring any vendors at your party: bartenders, caterers, and the like, they should all hold liquor liability insurance. You will want to check this beforehand. Liquor Liability Insurance helps protect the vendors from liability associated with the event.
- Umbrella Policies are larger policies that many individuals purchase to provide supplemental insurance on top of their homeowners policy covers. While not specific to hosting a party or gathering where alcohol is served, Umbrella Policies are designed to provide the homeowner an extra layer of protection. For more information about Umbrella Policies, see our article here on The Importance of an Umbrella Policy.
Next Steps for Hosting A Party
Holiday parties and gatherings offer a fantastic way to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy the season. While there are a number of considerations to be aware of, particularly when the serving of liquor is involved, your holiday party can be a real success with the proper insurance and risk mitigation.
If you have any questions or would like a review of your current insurance coverage we are here to help.
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Deland, Gibson: A Trusted Choice, Five Star Accredited independent insurance agency. Established in Massachusetts in 1900, Deland, Gibson is a 4th generation family-run insurance agency that has thrived working as a trusted advisor for its client base. We work with individuals and businesses to lower their Total Cost of Risk. We analyze a client’s direct and indirect costs and implement risk reduction plans to address areas of business, hazard, or strategic risk.