6 homeowners insurance tips for Super Bowl party hosts

Here’s how Super Bowl party hosts can enjoy the game — and their guests — while avoiding a possible insurance claim.

JAN 29, 2018 | BY ELANA ASHANTI JEFFERSON

Despite the fact that not everyone loves American football — particularly in light of its recent politicization via the “Take a Knee” campaign — most everyone loves a party.

That makes the ad hoc holiday known as Super Sunday a time for football fans and foes to come together to eat, drink and play armchair TV critic.

This year, roughly 45% of Americans plan to host or attend a Super Bowl party, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“As a favorite American past-time, the Super Bowl is a great chance for viewers to reconnect with friends and family,” says NRF Analyst Pam Goodfellow. “Even though the number of viewers is slightly down this year, plenty are still planning to enjoy the day by watching it at their favorite bar or friend’s place.”

Related: Super Bowl short-term home rentals & insurance coverage

Insurance experts advise homeowners who choose to host a Super Bowl party to anticipate potential liabilities — on the chance something unexpected occurs that results in an insurance claim.

Parties and holidays are times to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company,” says Heather Bolyard, vice president of Claims for American Modern. “Unfortunately, guests on your property are also a risk for which you may be held responsible.”

Related: How to plan ahead for a safe, claims-free Super Bowl

Should an accident happen, she advises taking the following steps:

          1. Address any injuries first.
          2. Ensure other guests are safe and secure.
          3. Take pictures.
          4. Quickly report the loss to the insurance company.
          5. Be sure to provide the names and contact information for witnesses.
          6. If possible, secure the scene for the insurance company to visit and complete an assessment.

“You put a lot of work into hosting a party,” Bolyard continues. “Do your best to be prepared… Then, enjoy the party knowing that you are insured in case an accident occurs.”

Related: Hosting a Super Bowl 50 party? Watch out for these 5 risks

Here are six tips from insurers regarding potential homeowner liabilities when hosting a Super Bowl party, as well as how to address them.

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Food and drink account for nearly 80% of the purchases made specifically for Super Bowl parties, according to the National Retail Federation. (Photo: iStock)

No. 6: Look out for inebriated guests.

Depending on the location, social host liability laws, or the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to guests, are applicable to events such as in-home Super Bowl parties, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

American Modern’s Heather Bolyard notes that hosts can be liable for guests who over-imbibe and then drive home while intoxicated:

“There have been some very sad claims where after leaving a party with family and friends the guest drove drunk causing an accident, injuries, and even death. A Super Bowl party with friends and family is going to be a great event. If you’re serving alcohol, do so early in the game and be sure to serve food as well; put the alcohol away before the end of the game and switch to coffee and dessert.

For those that over-imbibe ensure they don’t drive; consider asking another guest to give the person a ride or order a ride from a local taxi or ride-sharing service. There are so many services that are quick and convenient. Go ahead and have an app or phone number handy if you need one for a guest. You want to remember the great party, not the results of car accident.”

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In the United States, emergency rooms see nearly 8 million slip-and-fall accident cases each year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. (Photo: iStock)

No. 5: Clear icy or obstructed sidewalks.

Many parts of the country are heading into the coldest, snowiest part of winter. That means anyone hosting a Super Bowl party could be liable should a guest slip and fall on their steps, driveway or walkway.

But that becomes much less likely when a homeowner has taken extra precautions to clear and salt snowy, icy outdoor paths.

Related: 10 ways to reduce slips, trips and falls in your business

Farmers Insurance data also indicates that skidding on ice or snow and hitting an object or pedestrian claims both increase by more than 5% on Super Bowl Sunday compared to the three Sundays prior.

grill-fire-shutterstock230438338

 

Five out of six (83%) grills involved in home fires were fueled by gas while 13% used charcoal or other solid fuel, according to the National Fire Protection Association. (Photo: Shutterstock)

No. 4: Responsibly ‘fire up the barbie.’

Grilling food is easy, fast and delicious, but it also can be dangerous.

Between 2009 and 2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and these fires accounted for annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 reported civilian injuries, and $118 million in direct property damage.

Related: Time for a cookout! Grilling safety & homeowners insurance basics

Super Bowl party hosts should make sure grills are clean and operational before the party, as well as positioned away from people and property.

Keep fire safety tools on hand, just in case.

partyfoodistock-531184054

Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest food consumption day of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Photo: iStock)

No. 3: Ward off foodborne illness.

Popular party foods containing dairy, such as dips or potato salad, can quickly sour once they come to room temperature, and Super Bowl party hosts could be liable should a guest become sick from something served at the event.

These food storage tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will go a long way toward avoiding the spread of foodborne illness:

— It is vital to keep foods out of the “Danger Zone,” which is the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F.

— When foods are left in the “Danger Zone,” bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to 17 million in 12 hours.

— Avoid serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game.

— If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140°F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers.

— If take-out foods will not be served immediately, either keep them warm in a preheated oven, or divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate. At serving time, reheat to 165°F.

— Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40°F or below, which can be done by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice. Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into them.

— Use a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the “Danger Zone.”

Related: Win big with these 7 food safety tips for your Super Bowl 50 party

most-dog-bites-occur-at-home-with-the-family-petis

More than four million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo: iStock)

No. 2: Minimize pet stress.

Dogs are especially sensitive to crowds and noise (like touchdown cheering), and an agitated animal is more likely to bite.

When pets join the party, owners should monitor them for signs of stress such as panting, pacing or hiding. It also may also be wise to keep older or anxious dogs away from Super Bowl party guests altogether.

Related: 8 tips for preventing dog bites

homeinsuranceistock56126542

Property damage, including theft, accounts for more than 97% of homeowners insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. (Photo: iStock)

No. 1: Consider supplemental coverage.

Farmers Insurance warns that homeowners’ policies generally cover a limited amount of liability for injuries that occur at the home. So homeowners may want to consider a personal liability umbrella policy as a supplement.

Farmers also advises Super Bowl party hosts that any intentional act resulting in damage to home or property may not be covered under a homeowners policy. And there are limits to certain types of homeowner losses, such as theft.

To that end, Super Bowl party hosts may want to consult with their insurance specialist before Super Sunday to determine whether supplemental insurance, knowns as a floater, may be prudent.

“Parties and holidays are times to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company,” says American Modern’s Heather Bolyard. “After doing your best to prepare for an entertaining event, insurance can help you have peace of mind and enjoy the time with your friends and family.”

See also:

Where do insurance company Super Bowl ads rank with viewers

Nationwide defends its position over controversial Super Bowl ad

For your home insurance review, call us at (317) 886-0081 or visit our website: Scott Lynch Agency

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Do you know your host liquor liability?

by Erie Insurance on 

As a party host, you probably don’t want to think about your potential liquor liability. But it’s something you’ll want to consider as your party planning gets under way this holiday season.

That’s because most states hold party hosts who offer excessive alcohol to their guests responsible for those guests’ actions behind the wheel. In those states, anyone injured by a drunk driver has the right to sue the host of the party who served the alcohol. Sometimes, criminal charges may even apply.

Recommendations on how to host your holiday party

This doesn’t mean you need to call off your party. Instead, keeping a few things in mind may significantly reduce your exposure to social host liquor liability.

  • Limit guests to people you actually know—and seriously consider cutting from your list anyone who habitually overindulges.
  • Encourage your guests to choose a designated driver before they arrive.
  • Serve plenty of nonalcoholic drinks and food to help counter the effects of the alcohol.
  • Have activities like dancing or games going on that don’t involve alcohol.
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
  • Offer to call a cab or be the designated driver for anyone who appears intoxicated.

To limit your exposure to liquor liability even more, consider:

  • Hosting the event at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license rather than at your home.
  • Hiring a professional bartender. Pros may be better able to recognize the signs of intoxication—and it’s easier to cut off someone you don’t know. This is especially true if a bartender completed the ServSafe® Alcohol program.

As a final precaution, review your homeowners or renters policy. It may offer coverage for damages sought by someone injured by a party guest.

For more information on liability insurance, contact an ERIE Agent in your community.

Does alarm company’s ‘We are not an insurer’ language overcome negligence claim?

AUG 03, 2017 | BY STEVEN A. MEYEROWITZ, ESQ., DIRECTOR, FC&S LEGAL

This story is reprinted with permission from FC&&S Legal, the industry’s only comprehensive digital resource designed for insurance coverage law professionals. Visit the website to subscribe.

Most businesses and many homeowners have alarm systems that include continuous monitoring. And the customers of the alarm companies rely on the systems to give them warnings of intruders or other problems. But what happens when the alarm system malfunctions, the business owner’s property is stolen, and the insurance doesn’t cover the claim? Can the business owner recover from the alarm company for negligence or does the contract’s limitation of liability language prevail?

A communication ‘error’

Ivan and Krystyna Homola, the owners of EJ Jewelers, Inc., contracted with Protection One Alarm Monitoring Inc., d/b/a Protection 1 Security Solutions, to install a burglar alarm monitoring system and closed circuit television at their store. In May 2014, the Homolas contracted with the company for burglar monitoring services, the terms of which superseded all prior agreements (2014 Agreement).

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on March 20, 2016, the Homolas received a phone call from Protection One informing them that the jewelry store was experiencing a “communication error.” Ms. Homola directed Protection One to call the police.

An hour later, Ms. Homola “called Protection One to follow up and asked if everything was ok and if the store was protected.” Ms. Homola said that she was told that “everything was fine, the police came to the store, and the store was fully secured by the alarm.”

At 1:00 a.m. on March 21, 2016, the Homolas received a second call from Protection One at which time, they were informed “that the store was again experiencing a ‘communication error’ in a few zones” but that there was “no burglary, just a communication problem.”

Later that morning, Ms. Homola again contacted Protection One, and she was told that “everything [was] fine.”

The next day, March 22, 2016, the Homolas went to the store and discovered that it had been burglarized. Apparently, perpetrators had accessed the alarm system’s power supply, which was housed in the basement of a business adjacent to the jewelry store. After disrupting the power, the perpetrators allegedly waited for the “back-up” batteries in the store’s alarm system to dissipate. Like a scene in a movie, the thieves allegedly cut a hole through the roof and descended into the store, stealing more than $500,000 in jewelry.

That same day, the Homolas also learned “that the cameras supplied by Defendant Protection One … had not filmed at all, and the camera’s backup storage provided by Defendant Protection One was completely empty.”

The Homolas filed a claim with their insurance carrier, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, which had issued a policy covering losses up to $80,000. However, because the stolen merchandise had been “out of safe or vault while closed to business,” the insurance carrier paid only $5,000 on the claim.

The Homolas then sued Protection One for, among other things, breach of contract and gross negligence. Protection One moved to dismiss.

Protection One’s Limitation of Liability

The 2014 agreement provided:

(A)WE ARE NOT AN INSURER * * * OF YOUR PREMISES OR ITS CONTENTS; (B) IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN ADEQUATE INSURANCE COVERING YOU, YOUR PREMISES AND ITS CONTENTS * * *; (D) THE EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES MAY NOT ALWAYS OPERATE AS INTENDED FOR VARIOUS REASONS, INCLUDING OUR NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER FAULT. WE CANNOT PREDICT THE POTENTIAL AMOUNT, EXTENT OR SEVERITY OF ANY DAMAGES * * * THAT MAY BE INCURRED * * * DUE TO THE FAILURE OF THE EQUIPMENT OR SERVICES TO WORK AS INTENDED. AS SUCH: (I) YOU AGREE THAT THE LIMITS ON OUR LIABILITY AND THE WAIVERS AND INDEMNITIES SET FORTH IN THIS AGREEMENT ARE A FAIR ALLOCATION OF RISKS AND LIABILITIES BETWEEN YOU, US AND ANY AFFECTED THIRD PARTIES; (II) YOU WILL LOOK EXCLUSIVELY TO YOUR INSURER FOR FINANCIAL PROTECTION FROM SUCH RISKS AND LIABILITIES, AND (III) * * YOU WAIVE ALL RIGHTS AND REMEDIES AGAINST US, INCLUDING ALL RIGHTS OF SUBROGATION, THAT YOU, ANY INSURER, OR ANY OTHER THIRD PARTY MAY HAVE DUE TO ANY LOSSES YOU OR OTHERS MAY INCUR.

In addition, the 2014 Agreement provided:

Limitation of Liability for Alarm Failure Events. NEITHER WE NOR ANY PERSON OR ENTITY AFFILIATED WITH US SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSSES ARISING DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM ANY ALARM FAILURE EVENT.

WE ARE NOT LIABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE ADEQUACY OF THE EQUIPMENT DESIGN OR DESIGN CRITERIA ESTABLISHED BY YOU, YOUR DESIGN PROFESSIONAL, OR LOCAL CODE REQUIREMENTS, IF, NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS PARAGRAPH 10(B), WE OR ANY PERSON OR ENTITY AFFILIATED WITH US ARE DETERMINED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY LOSSES ARISING FROM ANY ALARM FAILURE EVENT, YOUR CLAIMS AGAINST US AND/OR ANY PERSON OR ENTITY AFFILIATED WITH US SHALL BE LIMITED TO $2,000.00. THIS AMOUNT IS YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR ANY ALARM FAILURE EVENT, EVEN IF CAUSED BY PROTECTION ONE’S NEGLIGENCE OR THAT OF OUR AFFILIATES OR OUR RESPECTIVE EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS, BREACH OF CONTRACT, BREACH OF WARRANTY, STRICT LIABILITY, OR OTHER FAULT.

Further, the 2014 agreement defined alarm failure events as the “condition, nonfunctioning, malfunction, faulty design, faulty installation, or failure in any respect of the equipment or services to operate or perform as intended.”

A complete defense

The trial court granted Protection One’s motion.

In its decision, the trial court explained that the Homolas’ allegations sufficiently alleged conduct on the part of Protection One that, if true, might constitute “gross negligence.” The trial court reasoned that the Homolas alleged that, on two consecutive days, Protection One failed to alert the police and appropriate authorities after having been notified that the alarm system at the jewelry store was experiencing a “communication error”; in response to Ms. Homola’s call to follow up, Protection One responded that the jewelry store was fully alarmed and secured. In a second conversation, Protection One informed Ms. Homola that “there was no burglary, just a communication problem.”

The trial court then ruled that, notwithstanding any alleged gross negligence, the risk allocation/waiver of subrogation provision set forth in the 2014 agreement, which required the Homolas to obtain insurance for all losses occurring at the jewelry store and pursuant to which they waived any remedies against Protection One, functioned “as a complete defense” to the claims asserted by the Homolas against Protection One.

The case is Homola v. Jewelers Mutual Ins. Co.

Steven A. Meyerowitz, Esq., is the director of FC&S Legal, the editor-in-chief of the Insurance Coverage Law Report, and the founder and president of Meyerowitz Communications Inc. Email him at smeyerowitz@meyerowitzcommunications.com.

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Insurance Terms Made Easy: Subrogation

Watch this video to learn about Subrogation. For more information about insurance visit our website Scott Lynch Agency

Insurance Terms Made Easy: Subrogation

Insurance Terms Made Easy Subrogation