Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples who were planning to marry in 2020 have postponed their nuptials to the spring or summer of next year.
And to reduce the chances of creating a super-spreader event, many of them are planning for backyard weddings, small enough for their family and a limited number of friends.
If that's what you are planning, you'll have to consider the extent of your liability should there be a mishap. That's because if you were holding the wedding at a rented venue with caterers, those vendors would carry their own liability insurance in case a guest has a mishap.
In your case, you would likely be hoping that your homeowner's policy would cover you, but the limits may not be enough if you have a major claim.
Before planning or attending an event, you should always defer to your local guidelines and regulations. Remember that some states require visitors from other regions to self-quarantine upon arrival, and that there could be limitations on the number of guests allowed or the types of wedding venues available.
The risks that you could face hosting the reception at home that you need to consider in terms of your current homeowner's insurance include:
- Guests injuring themselves in some way.
- Drunk driving by guests.
- Guests getting sick from any of the food you are serving at the wedding.
- Guests becoming infected with COVID-19 and suing you for not safeguarding the attendees.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19
There are a number of precautions you can take to reduce the chances of your nuptials being the epicenter of a coronavirus-spreading event:
- Remind guests of social distancing precautions.
- Provide masks.
- Provide hand sanitizer.
- Provide easy access to restrooms for hand-washing.
- Serve individually packaged meals instead of a buffet or self-serve food stations.
- Host the event outdoors if possible.
- Keep guests together based on who they currently live with.
- Avoid dancing and consider other entertainment options that allow social distancing, like a live dance performance or fireworks show.
You should also communicate with your guests to inform them of the precautions you are taking, and to remind them of what you expect of them during the wedding and reception.
What homeowner's covers
Your homeowner's policy would typically provide coverage if a guest were to be injured at your wedding or sickened by the food.
If the host does not have the coverage and fails to show what courts call "reasonable care," which involves a degree of caution and concern for their own safety as well as the safety of those in their home, the homeowner could be held liable for the injury or illness.
Homeowner's insurance also covers the loss of wedding gifts, such as if they are damaged in the event of a fire.
When there are weddings there is usually alcohol, which in turn increases the risk of accidents either at the wedding, or if a guest becomes intoxicated and drives home.
If you are hosting a wedding, this is probably the most serious consideration you face and it isn't something your homeowner's policy would cover, or if it did, coverage would be limited.
You don't want the unthinkable to happen: One of your guests drinks too much, drives home intoxicated and is involved in an accident, in which they or a third party is injured or killed. If you were not supervising or limiting the guest's alcohol consumption, you could be held liable.
Your homeowner's policy is really not equipped to handle the breadth of liability involved in a wedding. If you are planning on hosting one at your home, you may want to consider purchasing a wedding liability insurance policy. Another option is an add-on liquor liability rider for your homeowner's policy.
These policies are often required by a venue to protect the wedding couple in case of claims resulting from property damage or injury that occurs during the event. The policies protect the bride, the groom and their parents against:
- Property damage,
- Bodily injuries, and
- Alcohol-related accidents caused by a vendor or guest during the rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony or reception.
Please give us a call if you would like to discuss your options.