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Holiday cheer and your insurance policy

Cocktail If you are one of the fortunate companies having an annual holiday party this year and plan on including alcohol in your celebration, make sure you assess your risk and review your policy for coverage.

While Dram Shop laws are typically geared toward establishments that sell liquor, there are social host liability laws that can apply.

Social host liability can impose liability onto individuals who provide alcohol to minors or obviously intoxicated adults who are then involved in an alcohol-related crash resulting in death or injury to a third-party.

Currently 32 states have some form of social host liability either through statute or case law - and Iowa is one of those states.

While we all like to have a good time and the focus of your party should be on entertaining, there are some preventative steps  you can take to lessen the possibility you'll be held responsible for your guest's actions after drinking too much.

  • Host the event at a restaurant or bar licensed to serve alcohol, where professional waiters can monitor alcohol intake and politely cut off anyone they perceive has had enough to drink.
  • Make sure that there is plenty of food available.
  • Discourage guests from drinking excessively, and stop serving anyone who appears visibly intoxicated.
  • Encourage employees to use designated drivers and provide alternative forms of transportation, such as free taxis.
  • In extreme circumstances, you may have to take your guest's car keys and insist they sleep over.
  • Make sure no minors are served

Another thing to think about is if you have coverage under your policy should a lawsuit be brought against you. Before you hold your party, make sure you are reviewing the dynamics of your party with your insurance agent. He or she will be able to advise you accordingly.

A little prevention can go a long way - and may even save someone's life.


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