The Major Risks of Hosting Teenager Parties in Your Home!

06 Feb
Risks of Hosting Teenager Parties in Your Home

Did you know the consequences of teens and alcohol in your home can be severe? Beware of “social host” laws.

There are plenty of reasons that teens get together for a party, prom, graduation, just about any Friday night and anytime someone’s parents are out of town. Regardless of whether you are hosting the party or junior throws a keg party when you are out of town, the consequences of teens and alcohol in your home can be severe.

Teen drinking can lead to car accidents or other misfortunate events. It can also leave you liable for what happens at the party as well as when the guests drive off. This can send the ultimate cost of the party sky-high if it all ends in a lawsuit.

Social hosting can be expensive

As an example of what could happen lets assume that you hosted a graduation party and served beer to kids that you knew to be underage. One of the kids drives away later and gets into an accident, hurting himself and two other passengers.

In this particular scenario, since the party happened at your house and you supplied the booze, in legal terms you are known as the “social host”.

According to the Insurance Information Institute there are 37 states that have a “social host” law on the books. These laws outline who can be found liable if a guest is injured or injures someone else due to drinking at a party. Some states have conditions making you liable only if the guests are under the age of 21. The liability assigned to a social host will vary from state to state so it is always a good idea to check the laws of your state before hosting a party.

Homeowners insurance should help

In most cases, your homowners policy will step in to help cover the damages and any liability claims. Unfortunately, the protection these policies offer will top out at the coverage limits which may leave you on the hook for some of the damages. In other words, a teen party gone wrong can be financially devastating.

There is a good chance that you are going to be sued by the parents of the injured teens for serving them alcohol and in a state that has a social host law the court will most likely find you negligent and therefore at least partially liable.

In most cases your homeowners policy would protect you in this situation but only up to policy limits and depending on your insurer, you could be on your own if your policy has certain exclusions.

Some policies state that personal liability coverage does not apply to the insured persons legal liability for the following reasons:

  • The occupancy, operation, or use of a motor vehicle by any person.
  • The entrustment of a motor vehicle by the insured person to anyone else.
  • The insured person’s failure to supervise or negligent supervision of any person using a motor vehicle.
  • The actions of a minor involving a motor vehicle.

These exceptions will mean that the liability cost and the cost of your defense in court will not be covered.

If you have a number of assets it is best to consider an umbrella policy which start at a million dollars of coverage and provide liability coverage above and beyond what your home and car insurance provides.

The protections from these policies will be in force even if your teen throws a party without your permission, provided they supply the beer for free. If they make the mistake of charging, even a nominal amount such as $5.00 for a cup, your insurer may deny your claim.

Charging for the beer will put you into what is legally referred to as “dram shop” liability which simply means that your insurer is going to look at the party as a business venture and will deny your claim, leaving you on the hook for all of the costs.

A few Party Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you have a party, especially one where teens may be present:

  • If minors will be attending, eliminate all alcohol, be vigilant about other guests bringing beer or liquor into your house.
  • Take all car keys from guests when they arrive so they have to check in with you before they leave.
  • Never serve a guest who is visibly intoxicated.
  • Consider moving your party to a bar or other venue which transfers liability to them.
  • If a guest appears drunk, call a cab or arrange a ride with another guest.
  • Always serve food which will help counter the effects of alcohol.

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