Liability Tips and Tools
 Entertaining and Event Safety: Tips for Entertaining and Event Safety-

If you are planning a wedding, charity function, birthday bash or other major event at your home, making a guest list and hiring a caterer are likely at the top of your "to do" list. But hosting a large affair in your house or on your property may open the door to a variety of liability issues. The following tips can help ensure that your special event will be a safe and memorable occasion:

Prevent Slips and Falls. Slips and falls-and the injuries that may result-are one of the leading causes of liability claims related to large in-home events. Follow these measures to minimize the risk, especially on stairs and polished floors:
  • Be sure all walkways and stairs are clear of obstacles, ice and debris.
  • Consider placing a rug or other temporary surface over polished floors to provide traction.
  • Post signs at the top and bottom of staircases to remind guests to watch their step.
  • Maintain adequate lighting, especially in high traffic areas and on stairs.
Select Reputable Vendors. If you are hiring a caterer, cleaning crew, band or other service provider, here are some ways to help avoid liability issues later on:
  • Make sure the vendor is licensed, bonded and insured.
  • Obtain a signed contract that outlines the function and service the vendor will provide.
  • Determine if the vendor has workers compensation insurance for staff that will be on site before, during and after the event.
  • For extremely large or complex affairs, consider hiring an attorney to assist in the negotiation and creation of a vendor service contract.
Serve Alcoholic Beverages With Caution. Weddings and other large events held at your home are a reason to celebrate. However, if alcoholic beverages are served and a guest injures another person(s) after consuming alcohol, the injured person(s) may file a lawsuit against you. Take these precautions:
  • Never serve alcohol to minors.
  • Guests intending to drive immediately after the occasion or those who have had too much to drink should not be served.
  • Hire a bartender to help monitor alcohol consumption.
Arrange for Safe Entertainment. Entertainment for your event may range from inflatable children's play structures and waterslides on the lawn, a paint ball tournament in the woods, or even dancing on a ballroom floor. Without proper supervision and safety precautions, accidents can happen. Follow these preventative measures to help avoid the risk of injury:
  • Consider the ages of participants, and take necessary precautions.
  • Obtain any safety equipment that may be needed.
  • Determine appropriate supervision (i.e., lifeguards, private security, etc.).
  • Be sure your event complies with local zoning ordinances, and obtain required permits.
  • If your property location is expansive and not all areas can be properly supervised, lock and store all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), as these can be a major source of injury.
Create a Parking Plan. A strategic parking plan can make your event more enjoyable for guests as well as minimize collisions on your property, prevent the blocking of nearby roads and thoroughfares, and allow for organized and safe entries and departures. Consider the following:
  • Create a parking plan well in advance. Be sure the plan complies with local zoning ordinances, and obtain necessary permits.
  • For larger celebrations, a valet service or parking attendants may be appropriate. Be specific with the vendor on how parking should be organized, and obtain a service contract.
  • Make sure the vendor is licensed, bonded and insured.
  • Maintain adequate lighting in driveway and parking areas to ensure the safety of vendors and guests.
This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.

 Liability Assessment-

Use these four steps to evaluate your risks and the adequacy of your insurance coverage:

Step 1: Know Your Risk Factors

Check all that apply:

  • I own a home
  • I regularly drive a car
  • I have children who drive or are away at school
  • My home has a swimming pool
  • I employ a housekeeper, nanny, gardener and/or other domestic staff
  • I have a dog
  • I own a boat
  • I entertain at my home
  • I blog, tweet, and/or post comments or photos online
  • I serve on a board of a non-profit and/or a for profit organization

If you checked just one of the above risk factors, you need excess liability coverage. If you selected many, then your exposure to liability risks may be higher than average. Look closely at your limits of coverage and determine if they are adequate.

Step 2: Determine what's at risk:

Home Value$
Personal Property (all the "stuff" you own)$
Investments$
Savings/Checking$
Future Wages$

Step 3: Determine whether you have enough coverage:

Personal liability insurance(home/condo/renters):$
Auto liability insurance$
Personal excess liability insurance(aka:umbrella policy)$

Step 4: Make Sure You Have The RIGHT Coverage

The coverage features of your personal excess liability policy are as important as the limit. Ask your agent or your insurance company if your policy includes these important coverages:

  • Personal Injury: Personal injury is broader than bodily injury and includes coverage for libel, slander, defamation of character and invasion of privacy. These coverages are more critical now than ever before because of the popularity of social networking, blogging and digital media.
  • Defense Costs: What amount of coverage do you have for defense costs and is this amount of coverage outside of the policy limit?
  • Medical Payments to Others
  • Worldwide Coverage: Your excess liability coverage should protect you anywhere in the world, not just the U.S. and Canada.
  • Non-Profit Directors and Officers Liability: If you sit on the board of your condo association, the YMCA or any other non-profit, this coverage is important.
  • Excess Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorists Protection: You buy a primary amount of UM/UIM on your automobile policy to protect you and your family from drivers who have little or no insurance. Excess UM/UIM offers an additional layer of this important coverage via your excess liability policy.

Does it all add up? Do you have the personal excess liability protection you need? Contact your agent or broker for additional information and your excess liability coverage options.

 Safeguarding Swimming Pools: Safeguarding Your Swimming Pool

A swimming pool can be a fun and entertaining addition to your home; however, pools pose a potential threat to the safety of your family, friends and neighbors. We offer the following precautionary measures to help you safeguard your pool:

General Safety Measures
  • Enclose your swimming pool or yard with a fence that includes self-locking and self-closing gates.
  • Keep all doors that lead to the pool locked at all times.
  • Consider equipping your pool with a flotation alarm that will signal if someone or something accidentally falls in the water.
  • When not in regular use, keep your swimming pool covered.
  • Clearly identify the shallow and deep ends of your swimming pool.
  • Keep toys away from the pool that may entice children and keep all lawn furniture away from the fence to prevent children from climbing over it.
  • Never leave a child unattended around water. Keep your eyes on your child at all times or designate an adult supervisor.
  • Do not rely only on flotation devices and/or swimming lessons to protect children. Proper supervision is always necessary.
  • If possible, always have a telephone near the pool and know your local emergency telephone numbers or 911. Encourage your family to take CPR lessons.
  • Be aware of your local weather conditions and never go swimming during thunderstorms.