The holidays are here. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and more are some of the best times of the year. They are also some of the most dangerous from an insurance and risk perspective.

See, millions of Americans host family and friends for days and night of joyous celebration during these times. These parties and events often require days upon days of planning, coordination, and more.

Due to the nature of holiday parties, many risks rear their ugly heads during this beautiful time of the year. Many hosts chose to hire vendors to help with the parties and mitigate these risks. This can open a whole other can of worms when your personal liability exposure is taken into account.


5 Ways to Mitigate Risks During Holiday Parties

While thinking about personal liability isn't how to put one in the holiday spirit, there's hope. Here are five easy ways to mitigate risks during holiday parties and limit your exposure:

1. Focus on the Basics

Hosting a large holiday party will require hiring vendors and coordinating the event. However, every single vendor you hire will bring on added risks. To mitigate these risks, you'll need to focus on one fundamental issue. You must make sure every single vendor you work with is bonded, licensed, and insured.

Once you have confirmed these facts, you'll need to understand the details of their insurance coverage. Find out information like:

  • Their carrier
  • Adequate coverage for you event
  • Policy limits
  • References

While you won't be able to talk about a vendor's insurance coverage with a reference, you may get a glimpse into how the vendor responds to a crisis – especially important around the holidays.


2. Get a Contract

Once you found a great vendor to work with, you'll need a signed contract that clearly states the services and functions your selected vendor will provide at the party.

Make sure the contract clearly details dates of services and exact times. Also, it's vital that a contract has a hold harmless clause include. The provision ensures that hosts are not held responsible for damages related to a vendor-related injury or accident.


3. Be Careful with Booze

Holiday parties and booze go hand in hand. “Many a great story” only happened because a holiday party got out of control after the booze started to flow. Still, you need to take a few precautions if you're serving alcohol at your holiday party.

First and foremost – you should only hire a bartending or catering service that insures its staff against any and all booze-related liabilities. This is of the utmost importance.

Next, you need to understand personal liability. It's imperative that you let the bartenders do what they do best – serve drinks. Do not get involved with the pouring of drinks. Bartenders need to card anyone they suspect to be under a certain age during the event. This is the law and will ensure you're not held liable for any underage drinking issues.


4. Pay Attention to Parking

Parking can play a huge role in your holiday party, especially as an event gets larger and larger. Hiring parking attendants or a professional valet service can ensure smooth sailing on the roads during your event. You'll avoid blocking roads, minimize collisions, and ensure the safety of your guests.

As always, you'll need to work with a properly licensed valet company and get a contract in place. Once this is done, you can begin working on a parking plan with the company.


5. Slip & Fall

Finally, you need to pay attention to the weather during your event. With snow, sleet, and ice common in the winter months, you'll need to have a plan in place that gets guests from parking to the party in safety.

To do so - you'll need to prevent slips and falls. Start by removing all ice and snow from any walkway or staircase. Make sure you have salt or sand on hand during the event.

Next, add some additional lighting on walkways to ensure black ice won't sneak up on anyone. Then you'll want to post signage warning guests to pay attention and watch their steps. 

For more information on how to mitigate risk during the holidays contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc. (718) 267-6600