The clock is counting down to kick-off time for this year’s Super Bowl 50, and you’re in the midst of party planning. But have you added reviewing your insurance coverage to the checklist?
Most people probably haven’t, even though there are some risks to be aware of — and that they can plan to avoid, says Janece White, North American underwriting and jewelry specialist for Chubb Personal Risk Services.
Although White provided these tips with Super Bowl parties in mind, they apply to any party at your home, at any time of year:
1. Avoid slips, trips and falls
It’s important to ensure that your guests have a safe and secure environment when they come to your home, White says.
“That means, for those of us in the Northeast, cleaning up from Friday’s snowstorm and ensuring that your driveway, walkway and steps are free from snow and ice.”
The number one cause of loss for residential or commercial property is for slips and falls, she explains. “You want to make sure your home is clear of any known dangers.”
Look at the interior of your home as well, White advises. Make sure there are no hazards, such as throw rugs or cords that someone can trip over. People often move their television set to a different location for better viewing by a crowd, but they can forget about power cords.
Make sure your fragile showpieces and other collectible items are out of the room your guests will be in. (Photo: iStock)
2. Keep the playing field clear
“Put the fragile knickknacks away,” says White, “and put out the chips and dip instead.”
Many fragile items often aren’t covered under a typical Homeowner’s policy.
Before putting a signed football or jersey on display during the party, consider the fact that valuable memorabilia often isn't protected under a typical homeowner's policy. In the event of an accident or damage (perhaps spilled nachos on a famous jersey), without the proper valuable articles protections, hosts face a game day out-of-pocket loss.
White also suggests that you think about where your guests will gather to eat, drink and watch the game. Can the party be held in a different area?
She has handled one claim in which an excited guest threw up his hands and splashed red wine on an original oil painting. If this might happen to you, consider protecting or removing similar art objects if at all possible.
If you let underage guests drink, you are breaking the law, and you won't be covered by your policy if something happens as a result. (Photo: iStock)
3. Keep ‘ineligible’ players away from the alchohol
Super Bowl watch parties often include several generations of families and friends who gather to enjoy the game.
“Be sure you understand your state’s host liability laws,” White says, “and insist on no underage drinking, which is an illegal act and for which there is no insurance coverage.”
In some cases, your guests might allow their college-aged children to drink at home, but you should make it clear that they can’t drink at your house. It’s your liability on the line.
If your children who aren’t of legal drinking age plan to host a party, don’t leave them home alone. Such parties should be supervised by responsible adults.
“You need to know who’s coming to your home and what’s being served,” White says. Your children might cooperate by not serving liquor, but their friends might not be so cooperative. Everyone has heard about at least one unsupervised party where the guests brought the liquor — or other illegal substances. Houses have been trashed and accidents have occurred.
White also advises hosts to serve a lot of food to go with the alcohol, spacing out the courses. For example, you can serve appetizers for the first half, the main course during half time, and then end the drinking at the end of the third quarter as most stadiums do.
“You can be subtle about it,” she says, noting that you can gradually put the liquor away and set out coffee, tea and dessert. Most people won’t notice that they’ve been cut off, and easily move to the next course.
“You may also have to cut someone off from the bar if the guest appears to have had too much to drink,” White cautions. Be prepared to drive the guest home or arrange for a ride, whether with a designated driver, car service or taxi. You could also consider having the guest stay overnight. If the guest does leave and gets into an accident, you may also be liable as the host.
He looks cute and friendly now, but he might bite if you and his owner get a little too rowdy together. (Photo: iStock)
4. Pets can commit personal fouls
Most large parties, especially those with lots of yelling, can be stressful for your pets, White says.
That friendly dog may be startled by all the noise and the strangers and think its owners are being attacked. Cats, who are often finicky about people to begin with, can scratch strangers when they’re agitated.
White advises hosts to be sure the pets are secured, away from guests and in a quiet, safe place. Some owners have crates in a closed-off bedroom for their pets. Others send the pets to a kennel overnight.
Keeping pets away from your guests also ensures that the pets aren’t given food that they shouldn’t eat and that will make them sick.
Keep tabs on the alcohol so that your guests don't get too carried away with excitement. (Photo: iStock)
5. No host liability for unsportsmanlike conduct
When people drink alcohol their judgment may become impaired, even if they don’t think they’re drunk.
“You’re held personally liable for your own behavior,” White says. “If you back your car into someone else’s as you’re leaving the party, generally, the liability is yours.”
Hosts should be aware that state host liability laws may come into play in determining liability. It’s a grey area, White admits, but, for the most part, it’s the guest’s Auto insurance that should cover any property damage.
The same rules apply to the guest who gets too “friendly” with a few drinks. “It’s still sexual harassment,” White notes, but the bad behavior is the fault of the individual, not the host.
With a few precautions, you can still host a fun, safe Super Bowl 50 party. Go, team!
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