As millions of Americans prepare to host and attend Super Bowl parties this weekend, many may be unaware of the risks they may be taking. Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) have come up with a list for party hosts to keep in mind when inviting people into their homes and serving food and drinks.
A bad bratwurst could bring just as many risks as too many beers. A recent survey by Trusted Choice and IIABA found that almost three-fourths of homeowners had served food in their home that was prepared by someone other than themselves. That means more than 111 million homeowners in the U.S. have put themselves at risk for a lawsuit by just feeding their guests.
Study the Host Playbook and Do Your Homework: When hosting a party, individuals should look to the liability portion of their homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect them if they are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank or got sick after consuming food at their home.
Watch What You Eat and Feed Others: Even if food was prepared outside your home by a caterer, another guest, a local deli, or the neighborhood pizza joint, YOU could be held liable if someone becomes ill from consuming it on your property. Make sure that you check food and don’t put anything out that you suspect may be undercooked, spoiled, or contaminated. Use only reputable food purveyors. Follow proper food-handling, heating/cooling and storage recommendations.
Know the Rules: In many states, party hosts can be held liable if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related accident. Many courts have found hosts liable for damages their party guests cause as a result of consuming alcohol and then driving motor vehicles. Many states have also enacted statutes that can be interpreted as mandating non-commercial social host liability. So, if a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to you, you could be held responsible for the payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and—in the worst case—claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.
Let the Party Go into Overtime: If necessary, encourage guests to stay after the game is over to enjoy some non-alcoholic beverages and safe, filling food to sober up before driving home. Immediately after the Super Bowl is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road.
Make the Party an “Away Game”: Host your party at a restaurant or a local sports bar that has a liquor license, rather in a home, to decrease your liability.
Call a Cab, Get a Room or Have a Slumber Party: Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
Just Say No: Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end. You might also consider hiring an off-duty police officer or professional bouncer to discreetly monitor guests’ sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.
Consider an Umbrella Policy: Planning ahead and learning about what’s involved in hosting a reception is the best defense. Purchasing a personal “umbrella” liability policy—providing $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit of a standard homeowners or renters policy—may be a prudent move for the frequent party host.