Many homeowners enjoy throwing parties for holidays or special events. If a party is in the near future, be sure that individual homeowners coverage is adequate. Guests who are injured may need to file an injury claim if their vehicle is damaged, if they fall down or if a pet bites them. Research shows that about 75 percent of adult homeowners who plan social gatherings in their homes do not have a personal umbrella policy. This makes them more vulnerable to lawsuits stemming from guests who suffer injuries. The same research study showed that the remainder of the homeowners surveyed did not know what type of coverage they had. This means it is likely that the percentage of homeowners who do not have adequate coverage is more than 75 percent. However, they should have this extra coverage to protect themselves from lawsuits. Although dog bites and falls are common, alcohol is one liability issue that is often overlooked but is very risky.
Alcoholic drinks are viewed as a way to relax and enjoy socializing. However, there is one sobering fact that many homeowners who plan to serve these drinks should know. In 30 states, homeowners may be responsible for damages arising from any auto accidents caused by their intoxicated guests who choose to drive home. In a research survey, more than 50 percent of homeowners said they agreed that party hosts should be responsible for their guests’ safety. However, very few took any steps to obtain adequate insurance coverage. The research study concluded that most people avoid purchasing a personal umbrella policy because they are under the impression that their regular homeowners coverage provides adequate protection for such matters. Since many lawsuits include large awards and medical costs, it is easy for one incident to exceed the homeowners liability limits.
Homeowners must take two steps to ensure they are protected. First, it is imperative for them to contact a personal agent to discuss umbrella policy options. It is also important to take the agent’s advice to avoid facing a costly lawsuit. The second step homeowners must take is to read the following suggestions, which are designed to reduce their risk of lawsuits from intoxicated party guests:
-Instead of having the party at a personal residence, reserve space in a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license.
-Ensure that there are filling food options and non-alcoholic beverage choices available.
-To avoid trouble from party-crashing strangers, limit invitations to friends or familiar people.
-For guests who appear drunk, provide transportation or overnight accommodations.
-Avoid serving alcohol to guests who appear intoxicated.
-Plan activities that draw attention away from drinking alcohol.
-If several guests are expected at a home party, consider hiring an off-duty police officer to handle problems and discreetly monitor guests’ alcohol consumption.
-Take away all alcoholic drinks at least one hour before the part is supposed to end.