Holiday parties are happening just about every day now, and it’s inevitable that some issues are going to arise at some parties, many due to alcohol consumption. Your invitation list consists of friends, family, neighbors and people that you work with. If you’re an employer or work in a supervisory capacity, and you’re hosting a party at home, be aware of your possible exposure to liability with employees. This doesn’t only apply to the holidays. Keep it in mind for any occasion at any time of the year. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that 16,225 people perished in motor vehicle collisions in the first half of 2016. Unfortunately, that’s over an eight percent increase from 2014. The National Safety Council always ranks New Year’s Day as one of the top five deadliest days on the road.
Social Hosting in Minnesota
The Minnesota legislature and courts don’t recognize social host liability unless the social host served alcohol to a minor, and the minor injured or killed somebody. However, you don’t actually have to serve alcohol to a minor to be found liable. You can be found liable if the party took place at your home and you either had the knowledge, or should have had the knowledge, that underage drinking may have been taking place.
If an accident does occur due to underage drinking at your home, it’s unlikely that your homeowners liability insurance will cover you under those circumstances. In fact, It’s probably specifically excluded from your policy. That leaves your personal assets entirely at risk if you knew, or should have known that a minor was consuming alcohol at your home.
There’s an easy solution to the risk. Don’t tolerate underage drinking in you home. You may also want to be aware that counties and municipalities are passing criminal social host ordinances that prohibit providing a place for a party while knowing that underage drinking will be or is occurring.
Limiting Possible Exposure
Whether you’re hosting a party at your home or elsewhere, there are things you can do to limit any liability that any guests or co-workers might try to put upon you.
- You can hire professional bartenders. They’re trained to follow how much alcohol people consume and look for signs of intoxication.
- You can even exercise some control over how much your guests consume by either issuing drink tickets or simply having a cash bar.
Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) helps protect business owners from claims by your employees that include but aren’t limited to:
- Sexual harassment
- Hostile working environment
- Wrongful discharge
EPLI insurance can cover directors, officers, and employees for a wide variety of claims that might arise at a holiday party, particularly harassment if alcohol is served. A business of any size can be the target of an ELPI claim, even if alcohol isn’t served. Without appropriate coverage, defending any kind of an ELPI claim is likely to be very expensive.
Unfortunately, EPLI coverage is not always included in a business owner’s policy (BOP), so you’ll need separate EPLI policy or an endorsement.
An EPLI claim can arise at any time from any number of alleged acts or omissions, even if you’re just a small employer. Contact us here at Andreotti Insurance Agency in Oakdale, MN for an insurance analysis and EPLI quote. It doesn’t matter whether a holiday party or the annual company picnic is coming up; you’ll want coverage 365 days a year.