The house has been cleaned, the decorations are up, and the food & drink have been purchased.  But have you thought about being held liable if your guests are naughty instead of nice?  Santa won’t be able to help you with this issue!  Do you know if your home insurance will be there for you? 

If you haven’t thought about this issue you are not alone.  According to a survey by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, one-third of homeowners fail to realize they can be found legally liable if an intoxicated guest causes a car crash.  

And, did you know that in most states, courts rule against hosts of holiday parties where alcohol was served to minors.  They also rule against hosts who serve liquor recklessly to a guest who is clearly impaired.  While the inebriated guest can’t sue party hosts, a third party victimized in alcohol related accidents can and do.  This is more likely to happen when the drunk driver has little insurance (low limits of coverage).

Other common law suits related to a holiday party are:  trip and falls, food poisoning, and a family pet biting a guest.  These can all be very costly lawsuits!!!  Don’t let this deter you from having your shindig.  Just make sure reviewing your homeowner’s insurance coverage is on your “To Do” list along with picking up the ice.

To see what coverage you currently have look under the liability section of your homeowner’s insurance policy.  $100,000 per occurrence is the standard amount, but increasing that coverage might be a good idea.   The policy may pay to defend you or any other insured if you are named in a lawsuit.  The policy typically covers for negligence (or carelessness), but will not cover intentional injuries or damages.

 Now is the time to verify with your insurance agent that your homeowner’s insurance (or condo or renter’s policy) provide enough coverage for these issues.  Check out our page on homeowner’s insurance coverages http://www.aioinc.us/research-center/home-insurance.  After a thoughtful review of your policy you might want to consider an umbrella liability policy that could provide even more coverage.   As always feel free to contact American Insurance & Financial Services if you should have concerns about homeowner's insurance 410-877-0017.