Social Hosting Insurance

The holiday season is upon us – a time full of family & friends, food & festivities. As you add items to your holiday hosting checklist, you may want to give some thought to your insurance coverage – particularly if you are serving alcohol at your home.

Did you know that when serving alcohol at your home, you can be liable for the actions of your guests?

For example, if a party guest leaves your residence intoxicated and your guest injures another in a car accident, you as the party host and homeowner could be found partially or fully liable for the injuries (or worse).

This is called Social Host Law or Host Liquor Liability and there are 3 reasons why any homeowners who is hosting a party should have Social Host Coverage.

  1. Beer
  2. Wine
  3. Hard Liquor

We all know that drinking and driving is no laughing matter, but in 2011, a Massachusetts Appeals Court set a precedent on this. A policy holder had a guest leave their home intoxicated and was involved in an auto accident. The operator of the vehicle that the party guest struck sustained severe injuries and subsequently sued the homeowner citing they were negligent in their alcohol distribution. The courts ruled in favor of the plaintiff and stated that it was not a covered loss under the homeowners insurance coverage.

In Massachusetts, there are several homeowners insurance carriers who specifically exclude host liquor liability including the Mass Fair Plan (MPIUA). An MPIUA homeowner’s policy will NOT cover a claim arising from a host liquor liability situation, if there were injuries or death caused by an auto accidents. Some homeowners carriers do cover this, so you should ask your insurance agent to make sure that this coverage is included in your homeowners insurance policy.

If social host coverage is not available from your homeowners carrier, the way to address this gap in coverage is to purchase an umbrella insurance policy that would include coverage for social host/liquor liability. Limits for umbrella insurance start at $1 million in coverage and can cost as little as $150 per year. That’s a whole lot of coverage for not a lot of money.

One of the best things about the holiday season is getting to enjoy time with friends and family. That time is even sweeter when you feel safe and protected. Happy Holidays!