Risks associated with entertaining during the holidays:
Risk management techniques to Protect Yourself and Your Guests
- Make sure you understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
- Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
- Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.
- Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
- Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
- Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
- Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
- If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
- Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.
I am sometimes seen as the Grinch or a buzzkill around the holidays, but that’s probably because I recognize the increased exposure when we are hosting parties around the holidays. The hazard is host liability and the risk can be calculated based upon the probability of your guest injuring another party.
Keep in mind, a loss associated with a guest DWI or MVA due to negligence and operating a vehicle under the influence will not be taken lightly in a jury award. Although the guest is partially responsible, expect high severity loss potential and a higher frequency the more and more guests/parties you host. For example, 10 guest vehicles all out on the road at similar times leaving our house after a party. Varying speeds, varying vehicle weights, distances to travel, etc. but high severity and although the EV is low, the volatility associated with the expected value can be quite high.
You can calculate the increased risk or probability of an event occurring but this risk is best served by risk management techniques of avoidance (don’t host), loss prevention (limit the amount of alcohol served and above techniques), and risk transfer (make sure your insured appropriately).
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