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Do You Know Your Host Liquor Liability?

Hosting a party can be a wonderful way to bring family and friends together during any season. When entertaining guests, it’s widely accepted that offering alcoholic drink options can warm up a festive occasion — whether it’s summertime cocktails by the cabana or holiday spirits under the mistletoe. If you choose to serve alcohol at your party, though, it’s important to be aware of some potential pitfalls that we often overlook.

In many jurisdictions, for example, hosts can be held legally responsible (even criminally in some cases) for the actions of intoxicated guests. Leaving aside legal ramifications, damage to the host’s reputation after a mishap can be even worse than a lawsuit. So, let’s take a sober look at some ways to minimize the risks associated with serving liquor to your guests.

Hosting Safely: Seven Tips

Understanding the risks doesn’t mean you need to call off the fun. Instead, keeping a few things in mind may significantly reduce your exposure to social host liquor liability.

  1. Know your guests. Make sure you only serve people you know personally — and never anyone underage. Also, if you know your guests and their drinking habits fairly well, you can better anticipate potential overindulgence.
  2. Designate drivers. Having designated drivers is a great way to make sure everyone gets home safely. If possible, have a few people who are willing to stay sober and drive others home.
  3. Offer alternatives. Make sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic options available, such as water, soda and juice. The non-drinkers will thank you, and those who partake will be able to better moderate their intake while rehydrating to keep the good times rolling.
  4. Keep it lively. Keep the party lively and engaging with fun activities and games. By keeping the focus on having a good time rather than just drinking, you can save yourself some hassle.
  5. Be proactive. If you see someone reaching for “one too many,” turn on the charm and guide them to a better choice. If you’re serious about making sure your partiers don’t go too far, consider hiring a professional bartender with a ServSafe certification.
  6. Watch the clock. Be mindful of the time and try to wrap up the party at a reasonable hour. If you cut the drinking early, you’ll discourage excessive consumption while making it much easier for your guests to get home safely.
  7. Snag the keys. If you’re concerned that someone may have had too much to drink, don’t be afraid to ask for their keys. Make sure that they get home safely and don’t put themselves or others at risk.

Don’t Let Liability Rain on Your Parade

Still, when you’re exercising the utmost caution as a host — or just as a homeowner — unhappy incidents can occur. Even if you’re not directly responsible for the actions of a wayward guest, you can be held legally liable. That can be expensive.

One of the best ways to protect yourself against the unanticipated is with an umbrella policy1 from Erie Insurance. Also known as personal catastrophe liability insurance coverage, an umbrella policy can pay to defend a claim that’s not covered by your primary homeowner’s policy.2 Contact us today to find out how you can stay safe from the unexpected.

1The insurance products described on this page are not offered in all states. Umbrella Liability Insurance is not available in NY. The policy contains the specific details of the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Talk to your Agent for details.

2Not all acts are covered. Certain exclusions apply. Contact us today for more information.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.