Whether you're hosting a Christmas party for a dozen friends or a Super Bowl shindig for 50, if you're serving alcohol at your home, you should make preparation to limit your liquor liability, make sure you have the right insurance and reduce risk for your friends.
Social host liability law
Sometimes known as “Dram Shop Liability,” social host liability laws can vary widely from one state to another. Most states have them on the books. Many of these laws provide an injured person, such as a victim of a drunk driver, an option to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are also circumstances under such laws where criminal charges can apply.
A social host is not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (because the guest is also negligent), but the host can be held liable for harm to third parties, or even for passengers of the guest injured in their car.
Social host liability—insurance considerations
Homeowners insurance typically provides some liquor liability coverage, but limits are likely $100,000 to $300,000, and, depending on your assets, might not be adequate. Prior to planning a party in your home, talk to your insurance agent and review your homeowners coverage for any exclusions, conditions or limitations the policy might have that would affect your social liability risk.
Protect yourself and your guests
A good host is also a responsible host. If you are serving alcohol at a party, you should promote safe alcohol consumption and take the following steps to reduce your social host liability exposure:
- Make sure you understand your state laws. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises, but some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Remember many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
- Give consideration to venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your own home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
- Hire a professional bartender. Bartenders should be trained to recognize symptoms of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption.
- Encourage your guests to pick a designated driver who will not drink so that he or she can drive for other guests
- Manage your own alcohol intake as a responsible host/hostess, so that you are able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
- Always provide non-alcoholic beverages and provide food for your guests. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, will help counter the effects of alcohol.
- Never pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. Do not serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
- Cut off liquor service towards the end of the evening. Provide coffee, tea and soft drinks.
- If your guests do drink too much or seem too tired to drive, call a cab or Uber driver, arrange a ride with a sober guest or allow them sleep at your home.
- Insist that all your guests to wear seatbelts as they leave. Remember, seatbelts save lives!
The Liveoak Agency is here to provide extensive insurance selections for your home and property. Call us for a policy review of your insurance today!