Making Sure You’re Risk-Ready When Entertaining

Summer is the season for entertaining with high school and college graduations, weddings, birthdays, pool parties, charity functions or other gatherings you plan on hosting for family and friends. Some events take place at home while others are at a third-party venue – yet each comes with risks that require expert solutions in order to mitigate, transfer or insure your exposures and protect the assets you’ve worked hard to build. Owens Group is here to help you navigate the various exposures that arise when entertaining, providing you with a risk management approach that fits your lifestyle and allows you to enjoy it with peace of mind.

When entertaining at home, there are several factors to consider. First be sure you take care of any potential safety hazards. Conduct a walk-through of your entire property to ensure all is in order to provide a safe environment for your guests. You may also want to hire a lifeguard (if applicable) and private security for proper guest supervision.

If you are serving alcohol at your home, you can take some precautions to limit your exposure for social host liquor liability, including encouraging the use of a designated driver; offering to call a cab or ridesharing service for guests; serving plenty of nonalcoholic food and drinks; and curbing alcohol well before the party ends. You can also choose to hire a professional bartender, who is trained to spot when someone has had too much to drink and knows when to stop serving and inform the host of concerning situations. Make sure the bartender carries Liquor Liability insurance, and ask for a certificate of insurance to make sure coverage is in place. Also, review your Homeowners policy for Host Liquor Liability insurance. Depending on the insurer, not all policies will respond in the way you think they might in the event an intoxicated guest is injured or injures someone else. Standard Homeowners insurance typically provides some Liquor Liability coverage, but the limits may not be enough to cover a serious injury. It’s important to have adequate underlying liability limits for Host Liquor Liability coverage as well as additional higher limits via a Personal Umbrella policy that will respond in the event of a catastrophic incident.  

Also, a Homeowners policy may not respond to an incident involving underage drinking. Be sure you understand your legal liability and whether you are covered or not if a minor, unbeknownst to you, consumes alcohol and is injured in an accident. In most states it is illegal to serve a minor in your home. Persons who serve minors, or allow minors to be served, can be prosecuted under criminal laws in those states. Typically Homeowners insurance will not pay a claim if there are criminal charges.

Be aware that larger events, such as a wedding taking place at your home, will require Special Events insurance as a Homeowners policy will likely not be sufficient to cover your personal liability.

If you’re catering the event at your home, again ask your vendor for proof of insurance, including for General Liability, Products Liability, Liquor Liability and Workers Compensation coverage if they are providing and serving alcohol.

When holding an event at a third-party venue you also want to ensure the vendor is licensed, bonded and insured. Ask that you be named as an additional insured on the vendor’s Liability insurance and request proof of coverage. Make sure the vendor carries Workers Compensation insurance for staff that will be on site before, during and after the event. In addition, consider purchasing Special Events coverage to cover your financial exposure should you have to cancel or postpone the event due to an illness or another cause, if severe weather disrupts the event, and other incidents.  

Our professional team is here to ensure that you’re properly covered when entertaining. Give us a call to discuss your event plans so that we can review your risks and discuss how to best mitigate, transfer and insure your exposures. Please contact Michelle Clark at 201-408-3510.