As you and your family bring out the Halloween decorations and prepare for parties and trick-or-treaters, take time to evaluate the liability exposures associated with having guests on your property.
Keep the following tips in mind to ensure Halloween is safe and happy for your family and guests.
AROUND YOUR HOUSE
- Make sure sidewalks, driveways and stairs are well-lit for visibility and clear of anything that may create a trip-and-fall hazard, especially if you anticipate having guests after dark for Halloween festivities.
- Avoid any potential hazard by keeping your family pets away from your Halloween guests and visitors. Even the friendliest of pets can become agitated or over-excited with an influx of Halloween visitors.
- Use extreme caution if you decide to place a burning candle inside a jack-o-lantern or around your home for added Halloween ambiance. Candles can be a fire hazard if not appropriately monitored. Consider using battery-operated candles or glow sticks as an alternative.
- Hand out only commercially-packaged treats to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, .
- Supervise younger children as they go door to door, but remember to secure your home before leaving to avoid any potential thefts.
FOR THE PARTY HOST
If you host a Halloween celebration ̶ at home or at another location ̶ it is essential to evaluate whether you have appropriate insurance coverage in place. Serving alcohol to guests opens you to exposure for host liquor liability, meaning you could be held legally liable for serving alcohol to a guest who leaves your party and causes injury to someone else or causes damage to their property. If you are serving alcohol, consider the following tips to keep your exposures to a minimum while ensuring your guests have fun and remain safe:
- Ask that your guests designate a sober driver for the end of the evening.
- Consider hiring a professional bartender trained to recognize intoxication and limit alcohol consumption by partygoers, if necessary.
- Limit your own alcohol intake. As a responsible host, you’re better able to judge the sobriety of guests and can assist them in making alternative arrangements to get home safely.
- Stop serving alcohol toward the end of the evening and consider serving coffee and tea instead.
- Check your insurance policy if your party is being hosted away from your home. Your independent agent can review your homeowner policy to ensure you have the necessary liability coverage as well as off-premises property damage protection.
- Monitor your guests, and if any have had too much to drink, assist them in calling a cab or ask a non-drinking guest to take them home. Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts on their return trip.
Call your local independent agent to discuss your personal liability insurance coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations. Don’t be haunted by incomplete coverage; your peace of mind will help assure that Halloween is a treat.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and loss control services.