Graduation season is here, and many parents are beginning to plan parties to celebrate their recent grads. More often than not, graduation parties take place in the family's own backyard. Before hosting an event, homeowners should revisit the amount of insurance coverage they have to make sure it will cover them in the case of a backyard celebration calamity.
For independent agents, this is an important time of the year to re-engage with your clients and educate them around the risks of hosting backyard parties. Summer parties and wedding events bring guests to the home who entrust their safety to the homeowners. Homeowners should know that hosting any events—from graduation parties to summer bashes—are occasions worth contacting their agents about so that they can understand the details of what's covered or what's not by their current insurance policies.
Agents know that it is their duty to educate homeowners about their coverage. And while customers may hope for the best, it's important to always plan for the worst. Here are three areas where agents can educate homeowners clients to prepare them to host a graduation party:
1) Unexpected injuries and incidents. In the unfortunate event that a guest trips and breaks their ankle at the graduation party, the homeowner's liability coverage can cover legal and medical bills, as well as other costs, depending on the cause of the accident.
All homeowners policies have limits when it comes to medical liability coverage. If the size of a homeowner's personal assets makes them a bigger target for damages beyond medical bills, an umbrella policy should be offered to the client. Among other things, an umbrella policy can provide significantly higher levels of protection from lawsuits that can attack personal assets.
If a graduation gift is stolen during the party, the stolen items may be covered by home insurance, depending on the carrier. If the sprinklers unexpectedly turn on and ruin the gifts, that may be covered, too. Independent agents can advise on coverage for such incidents.
Homeowners never know what types of disasters can happen when they are planning a party, so it is best to ensure they are prepared for scenarios like injured guests and damaged or stolen gifts.
2) Alcohol liability. At college graduation parties, alcohol is often involved—and it is in everyone's best interest to have responsible fun. Alcohol is one of the biggest exposures for a host. In the tragic event that a party guest has too much to drink and crashes their car on the way home, the homeowner might be held liable for injuries to third parties, car passengers and any other damage from the scene. There will likely be lawsuits.
To protect homeowners from what could be a financially devastating outcome, agents should speak to their clients about adding specific coverage for liquor liability.
3) Cooking fails. Whether homeowners are grilling during the party or preparing sides in the kitchen, they should be warned that cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
If a party guest is injured in a fire, homeowners must ensure they have enough coverage to cover any medical expenses and repair any damage. Agents can help homeowners prepare for “worst-case scenario" situations like this one to ensure they are protected.
While some agents may feel that they only engage with clients when their policy is up for renewal or when they have a claims issue, graduation season is a timely occasion for agents to re-engage clients to learn about summer events they may be hosting. You can offer peace of mind by discussing possible risks and considering which additional coverage that might be needed. Agents can share tailored recommendations around how homeowners can enjoy the summer and host events in a fun and safe manner.
Bill Martin is CEO of Plymouth Rock Home Assurance Corporation.