Guest Blog by: Nelson Rivera Jr.

It's that time of year...graduation time. This is the crowning moment in any teenagers life – graduating high school. And as many of you as parents can attest to, it is not without hard work and perseverance from both your children and you. So, to recognize this great achievement, what better way to do that than have a graduation party? Something that you, your child, their friends, and the rest of the family can do to celebrate.

Like any responsible parent, you will have drinks for the adults only and soda for your child and his or her friends. Your child is a good kid, so you have made it clear that there will be no drinking at the party, and they have agreed.

The party day arrives and all the friends and family show up. However, you, being busy hosting the party, are unaware that some of the friends show up and end up drinking in the garage and others even show up drunk to the party. They drive off to the next party and get into an accident with another vehicle. The police show up and in the report, they tell them that they were leaving your house from their friend's graduation party. Weeks later, some legal papers show up at your house for the accident, showing that you may be liable for hosting the party. What do you do now? You wonder, am I covered for this?

While this scenario seems bad, it is possible, and it is important to know where you are liable in a party. Now the question is, is this covered under your homeowners insurance? The answer is, it depends.  

Here are the top questions we get around this time of year to think of when planning your party:

Q: My kids are going to drink anyway, so can't I serve them? This way I can monitor what happens.
A:  If you are knowingly serving alcohol to minors, while you are covered under the liability on your homeowners under the "Social Host Liquor" rules, serving alcohol to minors is not legal and therefore may not be covered under your homeowners policy. And if you are charging for alcohol, you could fall under the "Dram Shop Liabilty" and your homeowners would not cover you for that.  

Q: What if I have a party outside of the house, like at a park or clubhouse?A:  Good news! Your homeowners liability and umbrella policy will cover you outside of your home. What this means is that if you have your child's party at a park or other area, the Social Host Liquor rules will extend from whatever the limit on your homeowners insurance policy provides.  

Q: If one of my kids friends shows up intoxicated to the party and I send them away, am I still liable?A: Yes, you could still be found liable because you knowingly sent him/ her away in a vehicle when they were visibly intoxicated, and they are underage. Now, this may or may not be covered by your insurance as well.  

Q: What if I am away, and my kid throws a party on their own?
A: As the owner of the house, it doesn't matter if you are there or not there. If someone gets hurt on your property, or was drinking at your house, you could be held responsible. Depending on the situation, the liability coverage of your homeowners may come into play here as well to protect you.  

Q: What if someone trips and falls or gets hurt otherwise?
A: Most likely, you are covered in this event. Although each policy varies from coverages and the limits, if someone is injured on your property, you have medical payments and liability coverage on the standard homeowners policies, which protect you in this event. If you are not sure, you should check your policy or call your agent and have them review it with you.

Q: What else can I do to protect myself?
A: In today's litigious society, I always recommend to take as much liability on your homeowners as you can and take an umbrella policy as well, especially with children in the house. They are covered under your policies as a resident relative of your household as long as they are living there. An umbrella policy is extra liability that would cover over your home and auto policy and can be purchased for less than $13 per month for an extra $1,000,000 in coverage.

It is also important to review your current coverages to see what you have. If you are unsure, you should review them with your agent or insurance company.

Also, it is a good idea to have an agreement with your child. Let them know the implications of their choices and how it can affect you as well. This way, everyone can enjoy the party and celebrate what really matters, your child and their great accomplishment!

Congrats to all of the Graduates of 2012! We at the Bryan Agency wish you all of the best in your success!

Have more questions? Call our office (888) 565-2212 or stop in at 3068 Route 9W Suite 500, New Windsor, NY 12553. We love questions. Email us at  ***If your question is featured in one of our blogs, we will send you a thank you gift card in the mail. ***

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