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Reduce Party Hosting Risks

Safety Tips for reducing party liability risks this long weekend

Just because you are hosting a private party, that doesn’t mean someone can’t take legal action against you in the event of an accident. In fact, whether you are hosting a party, organizing it, or just own the location, you have a legal responsibility to plan ahead and supervise the party to make sure that the people attending enjoy themselves safely.

How can I reduce my risks?


  • Do not sponsor, organize, supervise, or allow on your property, any inherently dangerous events or activities, such as underage drinking parties, drinking contests, or all-you-can-drink stags or similar events.
  • If there have been previous problems with a particular event, group or person, take steps to avoid a recurrence.
  • Consider hiring trained servers and staff to help run large events, such as family weddings or major service club socials.
  • Do not combine alcohol and potentially dangerous activities, such as boating, waterskiing, hunting or operating ATV’s.
  • Check your property and guard against potential hazards. Even minor measures, such as locking the gate to the pool, replacing a burned-out light bulb, or tightening a loose railing on the stairs, can significantly reduce your risks.
  • Have a plan in advance to ensure that guests who become intoxicated can be taken home safely.


  • Do not serve, provide or make alcohol available to any person who is or may be under the legal drinking age.
  • Do not permit drinking to be the focus of the event.
  • Make food and non-alcoholic beverages available. People who have eaten absorb alcohol more slowly than those who have not, thereby lowering their peak level of intoxication.
  • If you are providing alcohol, serve drinks rather than having a self-serve bar. A self-serve bar encourages some people to drink excessively. Moreover, if you are serving the drinks, it will be easier to monitor your guests’ consumption and behaviour.
  • Do not encourage intoxication by serving extra-strong drinks, double shots or high-alcohol content beer.
  • Stop serving alcohol long before you expect the event to break up. It is simply not smart to serve people alcohol just before they drive or otherwise try to get home.


  • Refrain from drinking or, at most, drink moderately. The more you drink, the more difficult it will be for you to anticipate problems, supervise the event and intervene to avoid potential risks.
  • Be attentive to your guests’ behaviour and appearance. Be prepared to have a friendly word with a person who is becoming intoxicated.
  • If your guests are endangering themselves or others on your property, you will be expected to take reasonable steps to defuse the situation. While the courts are unlikely to require you to intervene physically, a simple verbal warning to desist may not be viewed as sufficient.
  • A guest may be significantly impaired and at risk well before he or she appears to be drunk. 
  • Do not provide alcohol to a guest who is becoming or may be intoxicated. Such conduct only increases the risks of a mishap and your chances of being sued.
  • If gentle persuasion fails, you may have to verbally insist that an intoxicated guest not attempt to drive home. 
  • Arrange for a guest who may be intoxicated to be taken home safely or stay the night.


Being a good host means protecting your guests, yourself and others, as well as having a good time. The steps you take to safeguard your guests will reduce your risks of being sued. Your exposure to legal grief is largely in your own hands.

Copied in part from Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s publication “A Guide to Avoiding Legal Liability”. Visit here for more information about Legal Liability while hosting, sponsoring or organizing a party: http://www.madd.ca/english/research/liability_eng.pdf

If you would like more information, or would like to arrange Party Alcohol Liability coverage for your event, Please contact one of our insurance experts Sam Lucibello or Rob Rotteveel.