Understanding Host Liquor Liability Insurance

August 9, 2023
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There is a lot of excitement leading up to hosting a social gathering – and for good reason! Gathering friends and family or colleagues for a party is always a reason to celebrate.

If you are hosting an event and plan to serve alcohol it is important to understand your insurance coverage. Before you send a message to the group chat, learn more about liquor liability insurance in the blog below.

Host liquor liability, or social host liability, protects you, the host, from claims related to alcohol consumption. This policy covers events that are taking place on your premises or on one that you have rented for use. While enjoying a casual glass of wine or beer may not seem high-risk, as a host, you are responsible for the safety of your guests when serving alcohol. 

When serving alcohol, several liabilities can increase a hosts’ risk. If you are hosting any of the following events, speak with a trusted insurance broker who can determine if you require a host liquor liability policy:

  • Backyard BBQ or party
  • Birthday party
  • Charity event
  • Corporate event or party
  • Family reunion
  • Holiday party
  • Open house
  • Stag and doe

What does a host liquor liability insurance policy cover?

Generally, a host liquor liability policy will provide coverage if you need to make a claim related to alcohol consumption. This includes personal injury or property damage where alcohol was a contributing factor. It also provides peace of mind in the event of an incident. While each policy is unique, a host liquor liability policy generally covers any or all of the following:

  • Cost of damages to the property if you are the liable party
  • Legal expenses
  • Settlements, if applicable

Is host liquor liability covered under an existing party?

In short, it depends on what policies you currently have.

If you are an individual hosting a party at your home for family or friends, your existing homeowners policy will not cover any alcohol related claims for large gatherings. The same applies if you are renting a location for the party. While some venues require individuals to provide proof of a liquor license, it is an additional coverage you need to purchase.

However, if you are a business that wants to host a social event or a holiday party, your existing commercial general liability policy may include insurance coverage for corporate events. In any case, be sure to speak with your insurance broker ahead of the event so they may guide you on any additional coverage that may be required. Notify your insurance broker anytime you host an event where you plan to serve alcohol.

If you are hosting an event at a third-party location, the venue may require their staff to be present and serve alcohol to patrons, or you can hire an external company that is also licensed. Smart Serve licensed servers ensure that those serving alcohol understand the risks and recognize the signs of intoxication before an incident occurs. In any case, encourage your guests to drink responsibly.

Encourage guests to drink responsibly, and always plan for hosting guests overnight.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when gathering with friends and family. Quickly, one or two drinks turn into three, and before you know it, your guests are making parting remarks. While many are aware of the risks of drinking and driving, it’s always helpful to prepare for alternative arrangements to ensure everyone arrives home safely. Even if that’s the morning after.

Here are some tips to save if you are hosting an event where you will serve alcohol:

  1. Make sure there is a designated driver or guests have made arrangements to get home safely.
  2. Serve non-alcoholic beverages like water and pop, or consider making a trendy mocktail. Like any good party planner, have plenty of food/snack options available.
  3. Stop serving alcohol and cannabis at least an hour before you think guests will start to leave. Offer coffee, tea, and water during the event, and especially before guests begin to depart.
  4. Download Uber, Lyft and have additional cash on hand for cabs for guests. While you are at it, tidy up the spare bedroom or prepare the couch for last-minute overnight guests.
  5. Always ensure guests are of legal age to consume alcohol.

How to purchase host liquor liability insurance

While purchasing an insurance policy is likely not top-of-mind when planning a party, it is a risk management strategy to ensure you and your guests can enjoy the party safely. It also puts coverage in place in the event the unexpected happens.

Obtaining insurance coverage is not complicated when you work with a respected insurance broker. Connect with a Gifford Carr insurance specialist today who can compare your options and provide the best policy for your needs, so all you need to worry about is the perfect party playlist. 

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