A Complete Guide to Serving and Hosting Responsibly

Chapter 4: How to Mitigate Your Liquor Liability Risks & Avoid Lawsuits
Part 2: Protecting Yourself from Social Host Liability Lawsuits

Remember, as a social host, you can be held liable for the actions of your intoxicated guests. Consider these tips to help keep them from overindulging and hurting others:

  • Consider outsourcing. If you are throwing a holiday party for your organization, you may be best off leaving it to the professionals. That way, you can request an indemnification clause in your contract with vendors to reduce your own liability exposure. The same goes for private parties. If you're hosting a considerable hurrah, it may be worth the investment to have someone else furnish the drinks at a place other than your home. This doesn't always work, as sometimes venues will want you to carry your own insurance coverage.
  • Don't allow minors to drink on your premises. It's illegal and not worth the repercussions. Some states (such as Georgia) do allow parents to supervise their minor children's underage drinking, so long as they don't leave the premises. You can look up your state's laws on the Alcohol Policy Information System's page "State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws." While this exception may apply to your kids in some places, it doesn't extend to other minors. Furnishing (i.e., simply having alcohol available at your home) can land you in a world of trouble if underage guests consume alcohol on your property.
  • Ration drinks. For age-appropriate drinkers, you may consider rationing drinks by way of drink tickets. Not only can this cut costs for your party (open bars are expensive!), but a set number of tickets per person can curb overindulging.
  • Set the tone for drinking expectations. Pop a note on your invitations that says something to the effect of, "Alcohol will be available, but we request that guests please drink responsibly!" Or if you are hosting a work party, send out a memo to remind employees to practice good judgment.
  • Serve food and other (nonalcoholic) drinks. Food can help slow the rate of alcohol absorption. Plus, if guests have something to nibble on between sips, it cuts their consumption. Snacks with protein and complex carbohydrates are best because they are filling. And if you offer guests other drink options, such as water, soda, and "virgin" beverages, they can better pace themselves.
  • Designate drivers. If you notice a guest has had a bit too much, arrange a designated driver. One of your guests would probably be happy to volunteer, or you could call a cab.
  • Last call. It's always a good idea to have your "last call" well before the party wraps up. Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, but typically, the body can metabolize about 0.25 ounces of alcohol per hour. So if you stop serving alcohol a couple hours before the party ends, your guests will have a chance to process the drinks they've had before they head out.
  • Carry coverage. Liquor Liability Insurance coverage acts as a safety net when attempts to manage your liabilities aren't enough. If you have a Homeowner's Insurance policy that includes host liquor liability coverage, check the terms to ensure it covers events you host away from your home. Even with this protection, it can be difficult to prove your coverage to inquiring venue owners. That's why for one-time events, you may want to purchase Special Event Insurance. Read more about this coverage in the article "How (and When) to Purchase Special Event Insurance" on the insureon blog.

If you have questions about Liquor Liability Insurance or Special Event Insurance, feel free to consult one of our licensed insurance agents. We can help make sure your event is covered so you can focus on enjoying the party.

In the meantime, let's take a more detailed look at Liquor Liability Insurance in the next section.

Next: Part 3: Protecting Your Business with Liquor Liability Insurance

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