Whether you are hosting a birthday party, a housewarming or a new years eve party, chances are that some if not all of your guests will have a bit more to drink than they should. If these guests are involved in an accident or damage other peoples’ property, will you be liable? The answer is maybe! Depending on where you live, you may be responsible for your guests’ behavior if it is as a direct result of consuming too much alcohol on your property.
These regulations differ from state to state and country to country. As a rule of thumb, however, it is wise to ensure that your guests do not over-indulge or drive if they have had too much to drink. Taking away their drink and making them a cup of coffee, giving them a place to sleep for the night or even calling them a cab might not only be your responsibility as a friend, it may also be your legal responsibility as a host. It is a good idea to ask your lawyer whether you will be held responsible for your guests’ actions after they attend a function on your property.
If you can be held liable, it is a good idea to review your insurance policy to make sure that you are covered for property damage and personal liability. If you do not understand the clauses and terms in your insurance policy, ask your insurance broker to explain it to you and help determine if you are sufficiently covered. If you are not covered, it may be wise to buy a liability policy. If you already have some form of liability insurance, but are insufficiently covered, you may need to purchase an umbrella policy in the event that a claim is made against you which exceeds the amount of cover that your liability policy provides. If you are covered by an umbrella policy, your normal personal liability cover will pay first. When the limit of your cover is exhausted, the umbrella policy will kick in and cover the remaining amount thereby protecting your assets from the claim. Try using insurance comparison sites to find good and affordable liability and umbrella insurance policy. If you already have some form of liability cover, ask your current insurer if they offer umbrella policies.
It is also critical that you inform your insurer if anything should happen on your premises or to your guests following a party on your premises. There are often “timely notice” clauses which could excuse insurers from honoring your claim. If you are aware of a suit or incident, notify your insurer immediately to ensure they fulfill their commitment to you.
To prevent this kind of claim from occurring, consider asking your friends for their car keys when they enter your home if you are serving alcohol. Serving food can move the focus away from drinking and help keep your guests sober. Make sure there are designated drivers present or keep a taxi company’s number handy. Finally, and probably most important, stop serving alcohol to people who are clearly intoxicated if they do not have alternate means of transport.