Do I need liquor liability insurance for my holiday party?

A group of coworkers at a holiday party playing beer pong.
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Generally, if you’re hosting a small holiday party at home, you don’t need extra insurance. The liability coverage under your home insurance provides some coverage. If you’re renting a hall or hiring servers for a larger party, then you need a special policy that includes liquor liability coverage. Cost starts around $175.

As the holidays roll around, many of us start to think ahead to our next epic holiday party. And Mitch is right there with you. We believe in taking time to celebrate with friends and family, and the holidays are perfect for that.

What coverage do I have under home insurance?

The personal liability section of your home, condo or tenants insurance policy includes a certain amount of coverage if you have friends over and they end up driving drunk and hurting someone. This is enough coverage for most parties at your home.

When do I need special liquor liability insurance?

If you want to be extra safe, it’s never a bad idea to get one-day liquor liability coverage (as part of an event policy) whenever you’ll be serving alcohol to your guests. It’s quite affordable. Practically speaking though, you only really need this coverage if you’re holding your party at a rented venue like a hall or community centre. Make sure to ask when you rent the venue whether they require you to purchase this coverage.

How much is personal liquor liability insurance?

For parties of less than 100 people, party alcohol liability starts at around $175. The more guests, the greater the cost. If you have a live band, you probably need special event insurance, which will also cost you a little more.

How can I reduce my liability?

Just to be safe, here are some party tips to keep your guests safe and avoid liability:

  • Offer food as well as non-alcoholic drink options.
  • If you’re hiring servers for the party, make sure they are Smart Serve certified.
  • Arrange for rides home.
  • Offer guests the option to spend the night.
  • If you see that someone is drunk or high, stop serving them and discourage them from driving.

How likely is it that I’ll be found liable for a drunk driver leaving my party?

No Canadian court has ever found a private individual liable as a party host for a drunk driving accident. Of course you don’t buy insurance for what HAS happened, you buy it for what COULD happen. And the Supreme Court of Canada has said that a private host could be liable under certain circumstances, especially if they are actively encouraging the consumption of alcohol or drugs.

If you’re an employer, or if you run a business that serves alcohol, then it’s a completely different story. Restaurants and bars are routinely found liable for injuries and damage caused by drunk drivers, and there have been cases where employers have also been found liable when someone gets drunk at a work or after-office party.

Want to talk it over?

We want to help keep you safe. Call one of our brokers today to chat about whether you have the right home insurance coverage and whether you might need a little extra coverage for your holiday shindig.

Special thanks to Gareth Payne for his help with this article.

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