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Planning a Post-Quarantine Celebration? Protect yourself from liability claims.

With so many people being secluded from their friends and family in recent months, it will be no surprise when people decide to celebrate the easing of restrictions on social gatherings with a big party.

At DPM Insurance Group, we too are looking forward to a return to more normal social times, but still want you to ensure that before the guests start showing up, you’re aware of the liability you face when serving alcohol to guests. Anyone involved in serving alcohol can potentially be held liable for damages or injuries where alcohol is deemed to have been a contributing factor in an accident or injury. So it’s important to know best practices for serving alcohol in your home, what your liability is as well as what to do in the event of a claim.

​As a homeowner, you have potential liability for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the negligent serving or distribution of alcohol on your property. You may be responsible for your guests’ actions if you serve people past the point of intoxication on your property. Hosting a staff party or backyard wedding with several dozen or more guests increases the possibility of you not being able to monitor all alcohol consumption.

Tips for Limiting Alcohol Consumption

The legal threshold for intoxication is lower and courts are now holding people who serve alcohol to their friends and guests on their property more accountable. Whether you are a homeowner or tenant, you may be held responsible for your guests’ behaviour – even after they leave your property – if you serve them alcohol. Consider the following before you serve alcohol to guests:

  • Ask people when they arrive if they are a designated driver.
  • Ensure many non-alcoholic beverages and food options are available.
  • One hour before you anticipate guests will leave, stop serving alcohol and start serving coffee, tea or water.
  • Have cash on hand for cabs and/or an extra bedroom made up for last-minute overnight guests.
  • Keep watch and don’t hesitate to ask for someone’s keys if you have concerns about their ability to drive.

Your Legal Liability as a Social Host

You may be responsible for your guests when you serve alcohol on your property. Forms of liquor liability include:

  • Liability as a server – serving people past the point of intoxication.
  • Liability as an occupier – a person who owns, has possession of or responsibility for premises are responsible for protecting people on their premises from harm.
  • Anyone involved in the service of alcohol could be held liable for damages or injuries where alcohol is deemed to have been a contributing factor.
  • Liability as an employer regarding employees consuming alcohol, such as at staff parties.
  • Liability as a sponsor of potentially dangerous activities.

Steps To Take in The Event of A Claim

  • Immediately contact your insurance representative.
  • Record all relevant information such as the names and contact information of any witnesses who were present or have information relevant to the incident.
  • Refer any discussions with the claimant to your insurer. Do not discuss liability with potential claimant and NEVER ADMIT LIABILITY!


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Blenheim Office

24 Marlborough St. N., Box 479
Blenheim, ON N0P1A0

Phone: 519-676-8159
Fax: 519-676-0020

Chatham Office

250 St. Clair St.
Chatham, ON N7L 3J9

Phone: 519-352-4343
Toll Free: 1-800-561-4949
Fax: 519-352-6484

Essex Office

29 Talbot St. N, Box 69
Essex, ON N8M 2Y1

Phone: 519-776-6457
Fax: 519-776-7400

Harrow Office

65 King St. W., Box 790
Harrow, ON N0R 1G0

Phone: 519-738-2277
Fax: 519-738-2279

Tilbury Office

59 Mill St. E, Box 1239
Tilbury, ON N0P 2L0

Phone: 519-682-0202
Fax: 519-682-2391

Wallaceburg Office

403 Wellington St.
Wallaceburg, ON N8A 2Y2

Phone: 519-627-1777

DPM Insurance is a BrokerLink company. The BrokerLink companies are subsidiaries of Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC)