Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Commercial Risk Management > Hosting a Holiday Party? Be Sure to Check Your List Twice!

Safeguard Your Holiday Party From Any Unwanted Misfortunes.
To have or not to have? That is the question when planning a corporate holiday party and deciding whether or not to serve alcohol. Along with the added fun that is often associated with drinking, a real threat is lurking around the corner. Drinking and driving is a concern during the holiday season putting everyone on the roads in danger. Consider a few ideas before making a final decision on whether or not to serve alcohol at your party.

  1. Tis the season of giving. If deciding to serve alcohol at a private event there are a few things to remember. First, 44 states have enacted a liquor liability law which makes it possible for a plaintiff to hold those who serve alcohol to an intoxicated or underage person responsible for any damage or injury caused by these same individuals after they leave the party. Secondly, without a liquor license it must be given away, not sold. Lastly, when business owners host a holiday celebration and serve alcohol, host liquor liability can be covered by their commercial general liability (CGL) policy. If you are holding your event at an outside venue or having caterers come to your premises, make sure that the caterer/facility has Liquor Law Liability coverage and that your firm is added as an additional insured as evidenced on a certificate of insurance. If you are planning any other unusual activities for your holiday party, it is always smart to check with your agent first to make sure that everything will be properly covered or if a special event policy would not be a better choice in order to have limits separate from your standard commercial coverage. They are quite inexpensive and provide an extra layer of protection that would keep any losses from a holiday event segregated from your company’s business insurance program.
  2. Company vehicle policy. Send a friendly reminder about the company personal use auto policy. Only employees are insured to drive company vehicles. As most people have more than one party to attend a lot of additional driving happens around the holidays.
  3. Control the serving. If you do serve alcohol, be sure to set a limit on how many complimentary drink tickets each individual is given. This will help keep the event under-control while still celebrating with a nice toast to a great year.
  4. Offer a ride. If you plan to have an open bar, provide your employees with a complimentary cab fare to and from the event.
  5. Arrange for accommodations.  Organize a block of rooms at a nearby hotel for those that have a long commute or those wanting to celebrate later into the evening.
  6. Contemplate alternative celebration ideas that stray away from the traditional evening party. Take your team to a local theme park for the day and allow them to bring their family. Just because there isn’t alcohol doesn’t mean it won’t be a blast.
  7. Keep it light with lunch. Host a lunch celebration, cater-in food, decorate the break-room and encourage a small gift exchange.

Business owners should talk with their insurance advisor about their liability insurance coverage and any exclusions, conditions, or limitations to their policies for this kind of risk. Appropriate liability insurance coverage is necessary. In some cases special event coverage may be available that will cover both liquor liability and other liability exposures specific to the event.