While Thanksgiving brings thoughts of foods – what to cook, eat, buy, etc., many of us don’t think about the fact our celebrations could have an impact on our insurance.
My Thanksgiving tradition has always just been my family getting together, but as we all get older this group continues to grow. As families grow, and friends also get invited, Thanksgiving gatherings become large parties or celebrations.
This means if you are hosting Thanksgiving, or any gathering or party, you open yourself to risks.
If you serve alcohol at your Thanksgiving celebration, and someone drives drunk and gets in an accident, you could be liable.
If someone gets sick from food you serve, whether you prepared it or not, you could be liable.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which a seemingly innocent holiday celebration could quickly become a huge lawsuit for the host. It is sad that a day focusing on our thankfulness for what we have quickly can turn into a petty bickering match and then an asset endangering lawsuit. We live in a world quick to turn to lawsuits.
The risk of an impending lawsuit from having people over for a holiday gathering is one big reason why you should carry umbrella insurance. This increases your liability over both your homeowners (and renters/tenant) insurance and auto insurance, better protecting you in the case someone does sue you.
Carrying the right insurance is just one good start to protecting yourself. There are other things you can do as well to help limit your liability risks.
Food: Anything someone eats while at a party you host in your home can become a problem for you. If they get food poisoning or become ill from consuming food on your property, you can be held liable. It doesn’t matter if you purchased the food elsewhere, from a grocery store or caterer, or if you prepared it yourself.
Make sure you check all food and don’t serve anything you suspect could be bad. Handle food properly and cook/store according to recommendations. It’s better to throw out suspected food than risk a lawsuit.
Activities: Mix up the party activities. Even though Thanksgiving is about eating, make sure you add other activities so it doesn’t also become about drinking. Provide filling foods and non-alcoholic beverage options.
New location: Host the party at another location, particularly a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license. This will help minimize your liability.
End of the Party: Arrange transportation, such as a cab or designated driver, or overnight accommodations for those who should not drive.
Your Right: Do not serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated guests. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends. Stay alert to what’s happening at your party and remember you role in the party.
Insurance: Check with your agent about if the liability portion of your homeowners insurance or renters insurance will provide coverage if you are sued from an accident or illness from Thanksgiving. Some policies may exclude liquor liability. Also check how much coverage you have, and if court fees are included in total liability or provided separately. As always, remember to read your own policy to better understand what is covered and excluded.
Better Insurance Protection: Consider purchasing an umbrella policy. This would give you $1 million more liability coverage above your homeowners, which could be necessary if you were to be sued. If you are a frequent host of parties, you should definitely consider an umbrella policy.
Give us a call at Killingbeck Insurance if you have questions about your upcoming Thanksgiving gathering liability, or would like a quote for an umbrella policy. Try to finish all party planning ahead of time so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.
From all of us here at Killingbeck Insurance, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Photo: “Happy Thanksgiving” by Faith Goble. Not modified. Flikr. CC BY 2.0