Hosting a graduation party at your home can be worry-free if your insurance includes the right coverages.
How safe are you from a graduation party lawsuit?
This includes homeowners, co-op and condos, and renters! Everyone hosting a party invites risks as well as guests. The first item on your graduation party planning checklist should be to contact your insurance agent about your “home” coverage. Graduation is a time to look toward the future so you don’t want something unexpected to disrupt this happy time!
In addition to reviewing your current homeowners’ insurance policy, ask your insurance agent about special event insurance, liquor liability insurance, and umbrella insurance.
These policies can help protect you from property damage, medical expenses, and lawsuits, but you should also take steps to mitigate your risks.
Before you send the invitations
Besides the guest list and the food, you’ll need to make some early decisions. Let’s start with the most obvious issue, alcohol. Referred to as “social hosting” there are liabilities that come with serving alcohol such as underage drinking, over-drinking, and driving while intoxicated. Being lenient on the drinking age, even in the privacy of your home, can have dire consequences far past your homeowners’ insurance. (Here is a quick reference for the laws regarding underage drinking and a story of a party that went bad. )
Underage drinking is only half of the issue, for the adults who drink, make sure you know how they are getting home. Don’t be afraid to stand up to a guest who is not fit to drive.
Preparing your home for the graduation party
You’ve made the preparations regarding food and drinks, now on to the physical issues. You may not realize some potential hazards since everyone who lives there has also learned to live with them. For example, do you have a few loose tiles in the kitchen or is the carpet on the stairs worn to point of being slippery? Time for a serious walk-through to see what could literally “trip up” your guests.
Here’s a short list of things to consider – be sure to add things that are unique to your home to this list!
• Furniture location – is there anything blocking a path that you just walk around?
• Furniture condition – is there a sharp edge, pointy corner, exposed wood, or rogue nail that you always mean to fix?
• Flooring condition – tiles, wood floors, carpets, and any transitions from one to the other; any “watch your step” situations that are just part of your everyday life?
• Appliances – are they all working correctly? Anything unusual that needs explaining to someone who doesn’t live there?
• Sidewalk/driveway – depending on the weather these could be hazardous.
• Structure – is that gutter hanging by a thread or maybe your gate needs extra attention to line up correctly?
• Yard – are there any obstacles, such as tree branches, where “ducking” or “sidestepping” are part of your daily walk from the door to your car?
• Pets – make sure pets are safe from guests, and that guests are safe from pets.
Set the graduation party ground rules
Graduation parties don’t need to by unruly to be fun. In fact, setting expectations for your guests will help them relax and enjoy themselves. Your rules should include everything you need to keep the party under control and fun.
Some simple rules include where to put their belonging to keep them secure (such as a closet that only the host/hostess can access) and designated smoking areas if necessary. Other, more important rules include what’s not allowed such as uninvited people “crashing” the party, loud music, too many drinks, and the use of fireworks or firecrackers, to name a few.
Graduation parties celebrate both today’s accomplishment and tomorrow’s expectations! Planning a great party takes time and thought, so start by putting your mind at ease. Call your insurance agent and confirm that you’re covered so that you have a fun and safe graduation celebration!