In light of recent events and news coverage of the RI social host law, it’s important to know the implications of hosting a party at your house. Since this is the season for after prom parties, graduation parties, weddings, and backyard barbeques, now would be a good time to think about how to best protect yourself against possible serious consequences if something goes wrong. What if someone gets hurt at a party at your home? What if you serve someone too much alcohol and they get into a serious car accident after they leave?
You may have seen the recent story of a South Kingstown RI lawyer who was caught hosting a post-prom party, involving alcohol, for his child. There was also a recent story about some Burrillville RI parents who supplied alcohol for their child’s party after prom. Both incidents involved minors being rushed to the hospital for intoxication. These parents may have had the best of intentions, as they claim to have taken away everyone’s keys and blocked the guests’ cars in the driveway. However, allowing minors to drink at a home party is still illegal and dangerous, and the homeowner could be held liable should anything go wrong. Minors who are under the influence of alcohol are more likely to hurt themselves, someone else, or cause property damage.
Providing alcohol for others to drink in your home or on your premises can create a legal liability for you…period. However, when you allow underage drinking, the potential for a problem increases exponentially. Your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance may cover the cost of legal defense, settlements or judgments if you are found legally liable for bodily injury or property damage to someone else. However, these policies do not provide carte-blanche “legal defense” coverage if you are sued by another parent for providing alcohol to their underage child. Homeowners policies also do not provide any type of criminal defense coverage (the parents in the recent stories are facing criminal charges). Furthermore, even if your policy does apply, the liability limits on your homeowners’ or renters’ policy may be insufficient to cover the costs associated with social host liquor liability. Because alcohol-related incidents can often involve substantial injury, death, or extensive property damage, homeowners who host regular parties should also consider a personal umbrella liability policy that adds an extra layer of financial protection. More than three-fourths of homeowners who serve liquor at parties in their home do not have this added protection.
We know that there is a lot to worry about when planning a party at your home, especially if it involves your children. Let us worry about the insurance! Insurance policies vary state by state. To clarify what coverage applies to you, and whether you have the proper coverage, God forbid something should happen on your property, contact Loiselle Insurance Agency. We will gladly check over your policy and answer any questions you may have.