Hosting a party is a great way to spend a cold Sunday in February – especially if there happens to be football on! But just like your favorite team may face injuries during a big game, bringing people to your home can open you up to all kinds of risks. Before you break out the smoker, you should know how home insurance has your back on Sundays (or any day of the week) so you can enjoy the big game.
Party fouls risks for homeowners
In February, millions of Americans gather to watch the pinnacle of the pro football season – most of us in our homes or the home of a friend. If you haven’t thought beyond what kind of sauce you’re making for your wings, it’s time to take a few minutes to understand how your homeowners liability insurance can come into play to keep you safe.
First, a quick note on what we mean by home liability insurance. Most people think of their home insurance as something they’ll need if a tree falls through the roof. That’s not incorrect, but in addition to providing coverage for repairing or replacing damaged property, most homeowners insurance also offers liability coverage. This part of your policy (also called personal liability or Coverage E) can pay for damages and even legal expenses if someone accidentally gets hurt on your property.
Separate from personal liability coverage, most homeowners’ insurance policies also include medical payments coverage (Coverage F) for when your backyard halftime game gets a little too rough. Coverage F may help pay for injuries that happen to your guests while on your property.
Obviously, you hope you never need Coverage F – or Coverages A through E for that matter – but it’s good to know it’s there if your Sunday takes a bad turn.
Homeowners liability risks at a party
If things go according to plan, you’ll never need to use your home liability coverage. But coverage is a must-have just in case things do go wrong. Liability claims tend to be expensive, and can often lead to lawsuits. Here are a few incidents that might lead to a claim on this part of your policy:
Food poisoning. It’s not always clear what can lurk at a potluck, but reactions can be serious. If someone at your party gets sick from the food you serve, they could sue you to cover the cost of their medical bills (after all, a single ambulance ride can cost more than a thousand dollars). Luckily, your personal liability coverage may help cover some of these costs.
Damage to guests’ property. Rowdy kids, intoxicated guests, and excited animals can mean things get knocked over or spilled on at any get together. That’s usually no big deal – but what happens if the speaker system your neighbor loaned you for the big day is ruined at your party? Again, your home liability insurance may be able to pay to have the property repaired or replaced.
Dog bites. Speaking of excited animals, it’s not always clear how Rover will react to a crowd. If your furry friend bites a guest, insist they get whatever medical care they need. Your homeowners liability insurance may cover the costs, unless you have a breed that’s excluded by your insurance provider or animal coverage is completely excluded under your policy. (But either way: make sure your guest gets treated!)
Alcohol-related injuries. Drinking can make any party more festive. But it can also lead to potentially serious injuries caused by alcohol-fueled fights, trips and falls, and even impaired driving. As a host, it’s important to understand that some states allow social hosts to be held liable for alcohol-related injuries that happen after people drink at their homes. This is a serious matter, as drunk driving can cause serious injury and death. The liability can be tremendous (meaning expensive). Your best bet here is to encourage safe behavior: make it difficult to drink to excess, encourage the use of designated drivers, and call a ride (or offer a place to crash) for anyone who shouldn’t get behind the wheel.
Home liability insurance away from home
One last note: even if you’re not hosting a big party this year, your home liability insurance may protect you. Most policies offer coverage for property damage or personal injury you cause (accidentally) away from your primary residence. So if you ruin those speakers at your neighbor’s house… check your insurance policy. There’s a chance you can make a claim for the repair or replacement costs.