By John Bordignon, State Farm Canada

Holiday and Christmas party season is in full swing, and because I represent a giant and boring insurance company I thought I’d share a buzz-kill story idea about homeowner liability as it relates to insurance if you are throwing your own shindig this month.

There are a variety of situations or accidents that can occur that could put a serious damper on your party. What if someone slips and falls, requires medical attention, or has too much to drink, then drives, and causes an accident? These situations are unpleasant to think about when planning a party, but homeowners should always make sure they are prepared for worst case scenarios.

Before hosting a party, talk to your insurance agent, broker, or provider about your homeowner insurance policy. They will help you determine if you have adequate liability coverage. Most homeowners policies cover bodily injury, property damage, and will provide for legal defense should a homeowner get sued in civil court as a result of an occurrence that is covered by the policy. Your agent can also help you determine if an umbrella policy is needed. Umbrella policies (also called Personal Liability Umbrella Policies) offer an additional level of protection beyond the limits of a homeowner policy.

Some tips

  • Warn guests to pay attention to any hazards on the property that they should avoid or take them by surprise; such as steep steps or a hole in the ground
  • Keep sidewalks, walkways and steps free of ice and snow
  • Ensure there is adequate outdoor lighting during times when guests will be arriving and leaving.
  • Take special care of items on the property that may attract children, like a swing set or tree house, and reinforce to guests that their children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • Be prepared to have guests spend the night, appoint designated drivers, or have a local taxi service phone number easily available.
  • Drink responsibly and have fun

Also, each province and municipality have various laws and by-laws that can affect your legal responsibilities; when in doubt contact a legal or municipal by-law expert to see how these may affect you.

Thanks for your time and Merry Christmas and Happy 2016!

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