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Host Liquor Liability 101

Dec 6, 2019 4 minute read

Host Liquor Liability 101

Holiday season is just around the corner! Before you send out the invitations for your Secret Santa Bash, or your annual holiday party, remember to make sure that you have the proper insurance coverage. This is especially true when dealing with alcohol consumption! When serving alcoholic beverages to a group of people, there are many potential liabilities to consider. The following blog will discuss everything you need to know about host liquor liability and how to protect yourself during the holidays!

What is host liquor liability?

Host liquor liability, also known as social host liability, is an insurance policy that is in place to protect you from any alcohol-related claims when hosting an event. When you are the host of an event, the responsibility and liability of your guests falls on your shoulders. Anytime that you provide or condone the consumption of alcohol on your premises, or at a location rented under your name, you are considered a “social host” by law.

If you are planning any of the following events in the near future, you should definitely look into purchasing a host liquor liability policy:

  • Wedding
  • Birthday party
  • Holiday party
  • Corporate event
  • Stag and doe
  • Charity event
  • Family reunion
  • Potluck or barbecue
  • Open house
  • Banquet

What is covered under a host liquor liability policy?

In general, host liquor liability will cover you if you have to make any claims of personal injury or property damage where the consumption of alcohol plays a major role. Depending on your specific policy, any or all of the following may be covered:

  • Legal expenses, including attorney fees due to a lawsuit
  • The cost of damages if the court happens to find you to be the liable party
  • Settlements, if you and/or the other party has decided to settle outside of court

Is host liquor liability already covered under any of my existing policies?

Depending on where you host your event, why you’re hosting your event, and what type of policies you have, you could already be covered for host liquor liability.

If you’re hosting an event as a business (for example, a holiday party for employees or a work fundraiser), your commercial general liability policy may include coverage for larger events. Make sure you speak to your insurance company or broker before the event takes place. The insurer must be informed every time an event takes place where liquor is served.

However, if you are hosting an event as an individual, either at your own home or at a rental location like a banquet hall, you may need to purchase your own host liquor liability policy. This is due to the fact that many venues require this policy in order to rent their space, and many home insurance policies don’t include coverage for larger-scale events.

Also, make sure that anyone serving alcohol at an event in Ontario has Smart Serve. The Smart Serve course teaches people how to recognize the signs of intoxication, and encourages smart and responsible behaviour around alcohol.

How much does this type of policy cost?

Just like any other insurance policy, the cost of host liquor liability coverage will differ depending on the person and situation. Rates are determined based on a number of different factors. These factors can include:

  • The type of event that you are hosting
  • Where you are hosting your event
  • How many guests are in attendance
  • The age of the guests attending

Why do I need host liquor liability insurance?

As the host of any event, you alone have the responsibility of ensuring that nothing bad happens to any guests or property as a result of alcohol consumption. Unfortunately for you, if you are hosting an event with a large number of guests, it will be hard for you to keep tabs on everyone. Monitoring the consumption levels of all of your guests will be nearly impossible. If some guests do happen to drink more than they should, the chances of an accident occurring will increase. That’s why it is best for you to play it safe and have a backup plan in place.

If something were to happen at your event, you could possibly face extensive expenses due to lawsuits and court fees. Having a host liquor liability policy in place can ease that financial burden for you, and give you peace of mind.

How can I prevent making a host liquor liability claim?

Even if you do have a host liquor liability policy in place, no one wants to have to make any sort of insurance claim. Instead, try to plan ahead and think of ways that can help you to prevent any sort of alcohol-related accident from occurring in the first place. Here are five tips to keep in mind that will help to eliminate and lessen alcohol-based risks.

  1. Identify any designated drivers upon arrival. Limit their consumption to one drink maximum, or simply do not serve them alcohol at all.
  2. Offer a large range of food and non-alcoholic beverages to your guests.
  3. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the end of your event, or whenever you anticipate guests will be leaving. Instead, start serving tea, coffee or water.
  4. If you notice that one of your guests is intoxicated, don’t be afraid to ask them for their keys.
  5. Have extra cash on hand for taxis or ride-share services. If you are hosting at home, offer for your guests to stay the night.

Need host liquor liability insurance? You’ve come to the right place!

Buying insurance isn’t what you think of when it comes to planning your holiday party. However, a great insurance plan can help put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy the season fully.

The insurance process can be complicated. It doesn’t have to be! If you go with a BrokerLink broker, we will do all the work for you. We will compare all of your options for you to not only find you the best price, but also the best policy tailored to your specific wants and needs.

To speak with a BrokerLink broker today, please call us at one of our locations.