Holiday Party Planning Tips and Social Host Laws

By Insurance.com Posted : 09/17/2004
December is upon us and you know what that means - it's holiday party time. Unfortunately, this means holiday drinking and driving will also increase during the month of December. If you are hosting a party at your home this year, there are some important things you need to consider before you pop open the bubbly - like sufficient insurance coverage!

According to a survey conducted by a national insurance company, 28.5 million Americans who plan to host a party between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl are underinsured. Why would you need insurance for a simple holiday house party? You would be surprised. Hosts that serve alcoholic beverages to guests can be found liable under the social host law if guests end up in a drinking and driving accident on the way home from their party. Something to think about as you plan your party this year!

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Social host law
What is a social host law? -��Social host laws are targeted toward hosts that serve or provide alcohol to minors or persons who are intoxicated,-�� states David Roush, CEO of Insurance.com, the nation's largest online auto insurance agency. -��Social host laws vary from state to state, but most states have some form of the social host law in place to hold hosts responsible for providing alcohol to guests that are intoxicated and will later be driving.-��

So what can you do to protect yourself? According to online car insurance agency Insurance.com, holiday hosts should check with their home insurance provider to see if their homeowners or renters' insurance covers such a liability. If your current insurance policy does not offer adequate coverage, ask your insurance agent what you would need to do to take out a personal umbrella policy. A personal umbrella policy will help provide extra liability coverage over the limit of your homeowners or renters insurance policy. While this may seem like an extra expense for a simple holiday party, the cost of getting sued can have a costlier outcome.

Note: Make sure to check with your insurance agent on the rules and regulations of your particular umbrella policy. In some states, your umbrella coverage will not protect you if you knowingly served an individual who was already intoxicated.

Holiday party planning tips
Comparison auto insurance agency, Insurance.com, has some helpful holiday party planning tips to help you plan a safe holiday party this year:

  1. Limit your guest list to people you know well and know how they typically act and drink in a social environment.
  2. Invite guests that know each other. Guests that are on their own might be apt to drink more versus guests that know a couple of people at the party.
  3. Greet each guest personally and offer to take coats and keys as they enter the house. This will prevent any potential problems later in the night as you try to take the keys away from a guest who may have had too much to drink.
  4. Stay sober. The only way you can properly determine if a guest has had too much to drink is if you are sober enough to evaluate the guest yourself.
  5. Reward Designated Drivers by having a Designated Driver drawing to win gift certificates or other fun holiday gifts.
  6. Provide plenty of foods high in protein and starches. Food will help slow down the absorption of alcohol into the body and give guests something else to do besides drinking.
  7. Set up a coffee station with non-alcoholic toppings and mixers, such as non-alcoholic syrups, sundae sauces, whipped cream and flavored powders.
  8. Schedule games or entertainment to keep guests occupied and away from the holiday spirits.
  9. Hire a bartender to serve drinks instead of having your guests serve themselves. Bartenders are trained in recognizing if someone has had too much to drink. Plus, it is easier for a bartender to tell someone they are cut off than it is for a hostess to tell a guest they are cut off.
  10. Provide a ride. Have a couple of taxi company numbers on hand for guests that have had too much to drink and need a ride home. Or hire a limo bus later in the evening to run guests home safely. This may seem like a lot of money to spend, but it is worth every penny if it means keeping your friends and family safe and sound.

Holiday tips for holiday guests
If you are planning to drive to a holiday party where you know you are going to be drinking, the best thing to do is plan on staying over night at the host's house or call a cab for a ride home.

Think you can drink and drive and you'll be fine - think again. All 50 states have strict laws against drinking and driving, most with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) Level of .08. Typically a .08 BAC Level is achieved after only two drinks in women that weigh 120 pounds and only four drinks in men that weigh 180 pounds.

However, alcohol consumption can affect everyone differently. For some people, they could have one drink and achieve .08 BAC Level, while it might take others with a higher tolerance a little longer to hit a .08 BAC Level. In any event, it is never a good idea to drive no matter how much or how little you have had to drink.

Another point to consider is while your state may have a set acceptable BAC LEVEL, that doesn't always mean that you are in the clear if you are stopped and blow under that level. If the police officer that stops you feels that you are too intoxicated to drive, the officer can arrest you for drinking and driving. In addition, your car insurance company can also cancel your auto insurance policy if you have been charged with a DUI.

The best way to celebrate the holidays this year is to abstain from drinking, or if you do decide to drink, make sure to have a designated driver with you, book a hotel room for the night or arrange for alternate transportation.

Compare auto insurance
If you are interested in switching your car insurance or are in the market for auto insurance, visit Insurance.com's auto insurance comparison application. Here you will be able to evaluate multiple rates from best-in-class insurance providers, helping you save time and money on your auto insurance this holiday season.

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