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How To Manage Your Social Host Liquor Liability

social host liquor liability

Hosting A Summer Event? Manage Your Social Host Liquor Liability.

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Corporate social events bring people together and offer great opportunities for informal conversation. Whether you are planning a charity golf tournament, employee picnic or open house, before you serve alcohol, it is important to understand and manage your social host liquor liability.

What Exactly Is Social Host Liquor Liability?

The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) defines social host liquor liability as “liability for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the serving or distribution of alcoholic beverages by a party not engaged in this activity as a business enterprise. Host liquor liability exposures are insurable under standard general liability policies.”1

Anytime you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered to be a social host. After the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Childs v. Desormeaux, social hosts generally are not responsible for the acts of guests that consume alcohol. However, a social host may become responsible for the acts of their guests if their conduct creates or exacerbates a risk to the public.

Related Matters: 15 Ways To Identify And Manage Special Events Risks

Be Proactive: Manage Your Social Host Liquor Liability

Even with the proper coverage, an events and liquor liability policy does not eliminate your exposure if alcohol service violates a statute, a minor is served or an already intoxicated person is served. Here are some steps you can take before your next company-sponsored event:

  • Create a risk management program that is supported by management, broadly communicated and includes procedures for handling an intoxicated guest. Advise your employees that you expect them to drink responsibly at corporate events.
  • Should an incident occur, be sure to document the situation and actions taken immediately.
  • Review your current general liability insurance policy to determine your coverage before you host an event.
  • Confirm that your event caterer or bartender service are licensed and insured. Require your vendor to provide certificate of liability insurance to include events and liquor liability coverage naming your company as an additional insured.
  • Stipulate in your vendor’s contract that only those who have received alcohol-awareness training should serve or sell alcohol at your event.

Promote Safety And Sobriety At Your Event

During your event, here are a few ways you can reduce your social host liquor liability risk.

  • Use bar stations to serve drinks to guests instead of servers.
  • Place a tent card at each bar that reminds employees and guests to drink responsibly.
  • Don’t price alcohol too low, as it encourages over-consumption.
  • Offer food as well as a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
  • Require servers to measure spirits.
  • Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the event and do not offer a “last call”.
  • Never raffle alcohol or hold contests that involve buying or drinking alcohol.
  • Subsidize taxis for guests or promote a designated driver program.
  • Schedule a speaker after dinner and drinks are served. This will allow additional time for alcohol to wear off.

An ALIGNED advocate can assess your liability exposures and ensure that your social host liquor liability risks are managed before you host an event. Talk to one of our advocates today about how we can help you secure the best products, services and insurance solutions for your business.

ALIGNED Across Canada100% Canadian owned, ALIGNED is a premiere insurance brokerage that serves more than 1,400 clients across the country. ALIGNED’s offices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver are supported by a national operations centre in Cambridge, Ontario. Uniquely within the industry, ALIGNED creates, negotiates and delivers the best business insurance and risk management strategies/solutions to organizations like yours.

Sources: 1 IMRI.com  © 2006, 2012-2013 Zywave, Inc. IBC

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