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

We may not have a white Christmas in Miami, but that doesn't mean we don't know how to celebrate. This time of year is jam-packed with office parties and get-togethers with friends. We deck our halls with boughs of whatever and invite people in to make our spirits bright. Seldom do we wonder about the insurance implications of our annual Christmas Eve cocktail party.

If Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America -- known to industry insiders as the Big "I" -- has anything to say about it, though, hosts will talk to their insurance agents before that first guest sets foot in the door. In a press release issued earlier this month, the Big "I" warned that social hosts can find themselves liable for anything that happens at or after the party.

The most obvious risk, of course, comes with serving alcohol. Someone injured in a crash caused by a drunken party guest can sue the host in many states. Florida's social host law only imposes liability on hosts if the drunk guest is under age 21.

A risk that most hosts may not be aware of is related to the food. Whether the holiday spread comes from a homeowner's or a caterer's kitchen, from a private garden or a factory, the homeowner who serves it could be liable if someone gets sick or dies. Food poisoning is the most common risk, but homeowners shouldn't forget about allergies and choking hazards.

Homeowners can take a few simple steps to protect themselves from party risks, or at least to protect themselves from party risks that their homeowners insurance won't cover. We'll get to those tips in our next post.

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

Our firm works with clients who believe their insurance company has wrongfully delayed or refused payment of a claim. If you are interested in learning more about our South Florida practice, please visit the Miami Homeowners Insurance Claims page of our website.

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