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Tis the season to be wary: Home (insurance) for the holidays p3

We are finishing up our discussion of holiday parties -- before, we hope, the holiday parties are finished -- and the potential liability they carry for the homeowner and renter hosts. The basic rules of thumb are to know your state's "social host" laws and to be familiar with the liability coverage terms of your homeowners or renters insurance policy.

Common sense comes in handy at holiday parties, too, and there are times when hosts need to enforce common sense safety rules that their guests would gladly let slide. Hosts should have a list of taxi companies at hand for guests who shouldn't be driving themselves, or hosts should have a rule that every group of guests needs a designated driver.

Hosts, too, should make sure anyone hired to help at the party -- caterers, servers, cleaners -- follows safety and hygiene rules. Food safety is especially important in a warm climate like Florida: Cold foods need to be kept cold, and hot foods need to be cooked appropriately to avoid salmonella and e. coli.

Finally, if a host is not sure that his insurance will cover the possible or, at least, the most likely risks, he may want to look into purchasing event coverage or an umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy offers liability coverage above and beyond a homeowners insurance policy. The homeowners policy, for example, offers $250,000 of liability coverage. If a person injured in an accident on the property is awarded $275,000 in damages, the $25,000 not covered by the homeowners policy is covered by the umbrella policy. That kind of coverage may be appropriate for homeowners who frequently host parties -- that decision, though, is best made with the counsel of a legal or insurance professional.

Still, sometimes peace of mind is the first step to peace on earth.

Source:, "Holiday Party Hosts Could Be Serving Up Lawsuits," Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Dec. 6, 2012

We help people who are involved in coverage disputes about their homeowners or renters policy in situations like the ones discussed above. If you would like to learn more about our Miami-based practice, please visit our website.

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