Looking forward to having a few friends over for the Big Game on February 4th? If you are hosting a party anytime, you should consider how to best protect your guests and yourself.

Between Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday, 28.5 million Americans host parties, of which 21.3 million do not have a personal umbrella insurance policy, leaving themselves open to potential lawsuits and facing financial ruin, should the worst occur.
If a party guest drinks, drives and causes an accident, the hosts can be held responsible in more than 30 states. In fact, a majority (53 percent) of party hosts believe they should be held responsible, but despite this, most haven’t taken steps to protect themselves.
A personal umbrella insurance policy provides additional liability coverage over homeowners insurance. For those party animals who frequently host events, purchasing a personal umbrella policy may be a prudent move, and typically only costs a couple of hundred dollars a year for a $1 million policy.
In a recent survey conducted by the insurance industry, 84 percent of those responding said they would stop serving party guests if they’d had too much to drink. But when asked if they had ever intervened, only 35 percent of these respondents had ever actually “cut off” a guest.
Steps to prevent party accidents and protect yourself:

  • Limit your guest list to those you know.
  • Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather than in a home or office.
  • Provide filling food for guests and alternative non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol.
  • Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who should not drive.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.
  • Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Consider hiring an off-duty police officer to discreetly monitor guests’ sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.
  • Stay alert, always remembering your responsibilities as a host.

In Colorado, Colorado Revised Statute 12-47-801 governs claims against party hosts. Social hosts serving alcohol are immune from civil claims, including wrongful death and property damages, due to the intoxication of any person consuming alcholic beverages, unless the host knowingly serves alcohol to an underage person. In that case, the statute of limitations for a claim under this category is one year, and damages are limited to $150,000. The party actually consuming the alcohol, including his or her estate or guardian, cannot bring any claims whatsoever against the host.

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