Will Homeowners cover costs for guests that get sick after your holiday meal

04 Dec
Christmas Family Dinner

Get the homeowners insurance coverage you need to help protect you and your family in case you experience liability issues this holiday season.

The holiday season is upon us and that means neighborhood and work parties full of delicious food and drinks. If you have invited all of your friends and family over for a chance to eat, drink and be merry, be sure that you understand your liability risk if the party ends up going sideways.

According to experts, if someone gets behind the wheel of their car after drinking too much at your party, or the meal makes them sick, you could be on the hook for damages. If you are not properly covered by your homeowners insurance this can quickly ruin a great holiday season, cost you a fortune and lead to much higher insurance rates in the future.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention food borne illnesses put 128,000 people in the hospital and are responsible for roughly 3,000 deaths per year. Make sure you don’t put your guests into the hospital, using proper kitchen hygiene and cooking practices is a great first step. Be sure that you fully understanding the “social host liability laws” in your state as well.

Buffet tables can be breeding grounds for food poisoning so be sure your food is kept at the proper temperature and is not left out to long. If in doubt remove questionable food and dispose of it.

However, if you do have the unfortunate luck of making someone sick, a standard homeowners insurance policy will generally pay for the trip to the emergency room. If there are additional medical expenses, the guest may decide to sue which can lead to much higher levels of liability.

If your sick guest does decide to sue for damages, the majority of home policies offer protection up to a maximum of $100,000 or policy limits. This falls under the liability portion of the policy. Your insurer should cover the cost of your legal expenses that result from the lawsuit, even if they feel the suit is groundless.

If those coverage levels feel a bit low it is possible to purchase extra coverage via an umbrella policy. These all encompassing policies offer additional liability coverage after the policy limits of your homeowners or other policies have been reached.

Umbrella policies can be purchased in a variety of coverage levels, experts recommend a $1 million policy if you are having a large party. These policies are well priced and it is often possible to get $1 million in coverage for $150 to $300 a year.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your holiday party safe and free of lawsuits:

  • Watch the temperature – Always check food and never put out anything that you feel could be undercooked. This is especially true if you are using food that you did not cook yourself. Only use reputable caterers, delis and pizza places. A Christmas turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Keep an eye on the drinking – A drunk driver can result in a tragedy as well as an expensive lawsuit so make sure drinking is limited. Serve filling foods to counteract the booze and make sure you have a large selection of non-alcoholic beverages. Cut off anyone who seems on their way to drunk and stop serving alcohol about an hour before the party is slated to end. Be sure anyone who has over-indulged has a designated driver.
  • Rent a bar – A great way to lower your liability risk is to pass it along to a restaurant or bar. Letting a professional host your holiday party not only removes your liability it also allows you to enjoy the party and skip the clean up.
  • Hosting a holiday party is a great way to show your friends and family just how much you love them but make sure that you fully understand the legal and liability risks before you throw open your doors.