Host Liquor Liability

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Host Liquor Liability

Harsh Reality

MADD Canada Statistics 2010:

  • 2541 fatal vehicle crashes – 1082 were impaired related incidence
  • 299,838 people injured in vehicle crashes – 63,821 were impaired related incidence (175 per day)
  • 1,651,650 vehicles damaged - 210,932 were impaired related incidence
  • Impairment-related driving deaths, injuries and property damage-only crashes in Canada can be estimated to have cost $20.62 billion in 2010

Canadian Hospitality Law: Liabilities & Risk state that “more North Americans have died as a result of accidents caused by drunk driving than in the First World War, the Second World War, Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.”

Commercial Host Liability

A commercial host is a vender who is in the business of providing goods, such as alcohol, to patrons on the premise. By law, a court needs the following for there to be a finding of liability against the commercial host:

  • Duty of care
  • Special Relationship (individual was formally invited to event)
  • Foreseeability (individual was noticeably intoxicated)
  • There was an obligation to monitor / supervise

In theory, commercial hosts are responsible to control the output of alcohol and react to intoxicated individuals to ensure the safety of all guests.   

Social Host Liability

A social host is someone who is:

  • Not selling / supplying alcohol for profit
  • Not an employer or has a unique relationship with guests
  • Is serving alcohol or condoning the usage of alcohol on the premise of which the host has control

When being a social host of an event, there are plenty of things to consider when alcohol is present. Of course liability insurance will help ease the hosts mind (and most venues will require you to obtain insurance prior to the event), some simple steps can be taken to ensure the safety of all guests:

  • Either don’t drink or limit personal consumption so you can easily track your guests
  • Know your guests and watch for behavioral changes
  • Serve food, ideally fatty and protein rich foods
  • Do not serve salty foods (makes you thirsty)
  • Do not serve sugary foods (doesn’t mix well with alcohol)
  • Try serving drinks yourself over “BYOB” (Bring your own booze) to keep track of each guests alcohol consumption
  • Have cab numbers at the ready
  • Use “Buddy System” when getting people cab rides home
  • TAKE AWAY KEYS – If guest refuses call 911 immediately
  • Always take full care of your guests, especially if intoxicated

“So what can I do for coverage?”

There are many different types of Liquor Liability Insurance and all are specific to different scenarios. For example, there’s coverage for events with live entertainment and different coverage for events without entertainment. In scenarios where you wish to serve alcohol at a sporting event, there’s specific coverage for that too! Here are three examples of popular Liquor Liability you may be interested in:

Party Alcohol Liability

  • Ideal for reception type events at rented facilities
  • Coverage usually includes: commercial general liability, liquor liability, tenant’s liability, non-owned auto liability
  • Great for events such as: weddings, banquettes, dances, cocktail parties, etc.
  • (can’t have live entertainment / sporting events – DJ’s do not count as live entertainment)

Liquor Liability Only

  • Ideal for covering liquor exposure only
  • Coverage only includes liquor liability
  • Designed for events like beer tent services or corporate events
  • Not recommended if you are using a rental facility

Special Events Liability

  • Ideal for events WITH live entertainment or sporting event
  • Coverage usually includes: commercial general liability, third party property damage / bodily injury, medical payments, non-owned auto, food and beverage product coverage, cross liability, employee/volunteer as additional, and Tenant’s coverage
  • Designed for larger events such as: music festivals, larger weddings, concerts, conventions, sports tournaments

Your best option is to contact your brokerage to see what your options are to protect yourself and your guest’s safety.

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