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The holiday season usually promotes gathering under one roof and celebrating as family and friends. The increased volume in one’s home can create property liability issues one would not normally think about.

In the midst of the festive and hectic holiday atmosphere, it is easy to forget the serious responsibility involved with hosting guests. In many states, individuals can be held liable in cases where a guest is injured in an accident at your house. Hosts have been held responsible for medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work, and even wrongful death. We recommend that you review your homeowners, renter’s or comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policy and ensure you have adequate liability coverage if sued and found liable for the actions of a guest your home. Most risks cannot be eliminated entirely. But planning ahead and learning about what’s involved in hosting a guest (or two or three!) is the best defense.

Liability Coverage Tips:

  • Limit guests to only those you know. Friends of friends (or family) may be bring unexpected risks.
  • Make sure maintenance items are tended to. You may know about your carpet snags and loose stairs, but they can cause unnecessary injuries to your unknowing guests.
  • The family dog may love you unconditionally, but bringing a new guest in may turn Fido into a Grinch. Make sure your guests are pet-wise and don't be afraid to kennel your pet put him out if he seems uneasy with your guests.
  • In case of bad weather, make sure to de-ice steps and walkways for your guests.
  • If hosting a holiday party, individuals should look to the liability portion of their homeowners or renters insurance policy to provide them protection if they are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank at their home.
  • Purchasing a personal “umbrella” liability policy—that can provide $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit offered by a standard homeowners or renters policy—may be a prudent move. This type of coverage can cost as little as $125 a year.
  • Review your insurance policy with your insurance agent before your guests arrive to make sure they (and you) stay protected.
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