BY ABRAHAM ASFAW The holiday season is a time for people to get together and enjoy each other’s company, whether with friends, family, or co-workers. For many companies, this means having a holiday office party which can allow employees to get more comfortable with one another, boost employee morale, and remove stress from the office environment. For many companies who allow or serve alcohol at these events, this also means higher risks and liability. Having the right insurance for this can help protect you, the company, and everyone involved.

“Forty-four states have enacted liquor liability laws. These laws make 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. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol.”

For many companies who host parties that serve alcohol, host liquor liability coverage may be present in their commercial general liability (CGL) policy. There are some other substantial liability risks that come into play with these parties, though. Sexual harassment and similar risks may also be of concern when adding alcohol into the mix. If your company holds events or parties including alcohol, strongly consider adding Employee Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to your CGL policy. This will cover incidents involving sexual harassment, discrimination, emotional distress and other employment liability risks.

To ensure that you are covered in case someone who is not an employee is affected by one of these concerns, make sure you have “third-party” coverage. This will protect the business from claims made by non-employees. Many companies invite clients and customers to their events, so this can provide coverage for all attendees who are not employed by said company. Without that specific “third-party” endorsement to your policy, a normal EPLI policy will not cover these types of risks.

If you keep and mind these key considerations your holiday party can be a truly joyous event.
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