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As the Super Bowl parties kick off, “Party Hosts” need to understand their responsibilities when inviting people into their homes and serving food and drinks. Before hosting a party for the big game, homeowners may want to consult with their independent insurance agent and determine if they could actually be liable if someone drives drunk or becomes sick after consuming food.   

  1. Read the liability portion of your homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect yourself if you are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank or got sick after consuming food at your home and review your liability coverage limits to ensure you are adequately covered should an accident or illness occur.
  2. Even if food was prepared outside your home by a caterer, guest or neighborhood pizza joint, you could be held liable if someone becomes ill from consuming it on your property. Check food and don’t put anything out that you suspect may be undercooked, spoiled or contaminated. Follow proper food-handling, heating/cooling and storage recommendations. When in doubt, throw it out.
  3. Know your State Laws and Statutes 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
  4. 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.
  5. Host your party at a restaurant or a local sports bar that has a liquor license, rather than in your home to decrease your liability.
  6.  Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
  7.  Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end. Stay alert and always remember your responsibilities as a host.
  • You should consider an Umbrella Policy: While partygoers and hosts alike should act responsibly and know their limits, consumers need to acknowledge that most risks cannot be entirely eliminated. But 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 may be a prudent move for the frequent party host.  Money Magazine recommends limits twice one’s assets.