But remember that when guests arrive, your risk for a claim goes up.
Reviewing these five areas of responsibility ahead of time, could help you avoid financial disaster.
It’s often dark outside when your guests arrive. Make sure your lighting is adequate. Turn on the lights early and keep them on. Tripping in the dark is common, and can result in an easily avoided claim.
Sidewalks, Driveways, Decks, and Stairs:
Have you been thinking about fixing that cracked pavement, loose board, or bad handrail? Now is the time to repair it- before your guests arrive.
It’s fall in Napa, and that means we can get ice. The steps may have been clear when the party started; will they be safe when the guests leave? Check your walkways. Have ice melt and sand ready to use. Also, clear slippery leaves from the pavement. A small leaf could cause a large claim.
I’ve written about dog bites and insurance coverage previously in the Register. This is a good time to think about the party from your dog’s perspective. Your party may include people that your dog doesn’t know very well, all showing up at night. This could be a stressful event for your pet. Consider letting your canine friend sit this one out. Dog bites are a common and expensive claim.
Are you grilling? Use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked. Are you baking a turkey or chicken? Again, make sure that it’s cooked properly.
Also, don’t leave food out too long. It creates additional health risks.
Finally, ask about any food allergies, and compare them to the ingredients in your recipes. You can be held responsible if a guest becomes ill from your food.
Everyone knows that you could be in legal trouble for serving alcohol to someone under the age of 21. But did you know that you could be sued for damages caused by an adult who had too much to drink at your party? So, designate drivers. Also, designate someone to be the “mean person” to tell Uncle Archie that he’s had a bit too much to drink. Promote responsible drinking behavior.
Finally, consider these possible insurance gaps:
Depending on how and where alcohol is served can affect whether your insurance will provide coverage. Some policies even exclude liability arising from the serving of alcohol. It’s not common, but read your policy exclusions.
Liability limits too low:
Most homeowners have not reviewed their insurance in a long time. It’s not uncommon for a claim to exceed the limits of your policy. You may need to consider purchasing an “umbrella” policy that increases your liability limits. This is easily done and usually quite affordable.
Call your local insurance agent as part of your party planning. A five-minute phone call could make a huge difference if there is an insurance claim later.
Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates helping clients with insurance needs for personal, commercial and business insurance. Bruce can be reached at 707-931-0186, firstname.lastname@example.org