Inside Insurance: Plan a responsible party for the holidays

Party tips for hosts

As party planners and hosts, we have responsibilities that sometimes we do not consider.


One of the most important is the potential for a homeowner or a renter to face social host liability laws when serving liquor. It’s not easy to invite friends and relatives to a party and then take steps to limit their liquor consumption. It is much easier for a bartender to tell a stranger he has had enough or even too much. When the host is the bartender, it can be a different story.

Here’s what the party host should seriously consider in the planning process and during the event.

The victim of a drunk driver in many states, including Georgia, can sue the person who served the alcohol. Under these laws criminal charges might also apply.

Loretta Worters, the vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, says: “While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by the drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.”

Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but it is typically limited to $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the policy, which might not be enough.

Renters who have liability coverage should also know what their policies cover and for how much.

To make sure you cover the bases in preparation for a holiday party, it is a good idea to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your homeowners or renters coverages and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for risks of this kind, according to Worters.

There are several important items to consider on your checklist as a responsible host.

It is important to promoting safe alcohol consumption and protect your exposure regarding social host liability laws.

• Make sure you understand your state laws.

• Consider venues other than your home for the party.

• Hire a professional bartender.

• Urge guests to pick a designated driver.

• Offer nonalcoholic beverages and always serve food.

• Do not pressure guests to drink.

• Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening.

• If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab.

• Look round the area where your party will be held and make sure you have eliminated potential risks for slip-and-fall injuries.

Furniture or throw rugs can be dangerous, so it is worth the effort to look closely at areas both inside and outside of your home or apartment.