In Western Massachusetts, your home insurance policy will probably cover any liability claims owing to a house party. But you're going to need to take a few steps to make sure that your insurer has no reason to deny your claim. Here's what you're going to want to do:
- Figure out your maximum occupancy and stick to it. If you don't know the number, get your square footage, divide it by 36, and round the number down. If there's a fire, you don't want to have your claim denied because you ignored the fire code.
- Lock away your valuables. Chances are there's going to be a handful of people you don't know at the party. Inviting several strangers into your home and leaving the silverware on display right next to the bar is asking for trouble.
- Talk safety with your guests. Make sure to lay down some ground rules, and don't be afraid to speak up when someone starts sprinting laps around the pool. At the very least, do everything within your power to keep the guests safe so that if something does happen, it's not due to neglect on your part.
- Let your insurer know. It's a good idea to call your agent any time you're inviting additional risk onto your property.
- Check IDs. This may seem excessive at a small get-together of a dozen people, but with 40 or 50 people on the premises, a few teenagers might slip in. Even if you don't get charged with serving alcohol to minors, it's still never a good mix to have them on-site and unaccounted for.
- Inform your neighbors. On that note, if you have a Homeowners Association or any other groups which might have an opinion on the matter, you'll want to get in touch with them before you decide to host a party.
It really comes down to giving your best effort to hosting a fun, safe party. When it comes to insurance, that best effort serves two functions:
- You don't want anyone getting hurt in the first place.
- If something happens, your insurer can't say that you simply sat by and let it happen.
You can't prevent every accident, and you can't guarantee a 100 percent safe environment. But trying your best means that your insurer has little reason to deny your claim.