Having A Party? Insure First!

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If you are hosting a party while on winter break, that kind of event can be a good time for you to catch up with your friends, but it can also cause you and your family to be held personally liable especially if you plan to serve alcohol. Should someone leave your party intoxicated, you could be named in a costly lawsuit if an accident takes place and someone is hurt or killed.

flaskWe can debate the merits of drinking, especially for underage college students, but the fact remains that many students skirt the law and are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking can lead to a number of physical and psychological problems later including alcoholism, but it also can put other people or themselves in harm’s way.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), a nonprofit communications organization supported by the insurance industry, several states have passed laws called “Dram Shop Liability.” These laws make it possible to hold those who serve alcohol to an intoxicated or under age customer responsible for damage or injury. An injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, can gain a method to sue the person who served the alcohol wherever these laws on the books. Some of these laws include circumstances where criminal charges may also apply.

Initially conceived to hold bars and other establishments responsible for selling alcohol to minors and not cutting off sales to intoxicated adults, the dram shop liability laws have been successfully applied to social hosts especially if alcohol is served at these events.

If you plan to host a holiday party and serve alcohol, the I.I.I. offers the following tips on how to have a safe and successful party:

— Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.

— Consider hiring a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and will limit consumption by partygoers.

— Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge a person’s sobriety.

— Serve non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. It is proven that food can help counter the effects of alcohol.

— Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve guests who are visibly intoxicated.

— Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening and switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.

— If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.

— Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.

Loretta Worters, I.I.I. vice president said,”Talk with your insurance agent or company representative about your liability insurance coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for this kind of risk. Appropriate liability insurance coverage is necessary. In some cases special event coverage may be available that will cover both liquor liability and other liability exposures specific to the event.”

Better yet, hold a nonalcoholic event. Will that keep some of your friends away? Yes, but if they’re true friends they won’t allow a dry event to keep them from seeing you and your friends, perhaps the best test of who really are your friends in life anyway.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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