As sure as the sun sets in the West, as sad as it is summer activities must come to a close at least in the areas of our country where the seasons are distinct. We will sit around our fireplaces reminiscing about the laughter surrounding Dad’s burning the hamburgers and hot dogs and calling it food fit for a king, Aunt Ellen surprising us all with her famous strawberry pie, Uncle John burning up his car when the fireworks he had purchased exploded, Cousin Mary running her horse into the side of Grandpa’s pickup while showing off her horsemanship, the kids playing frisbee football when a cousin got his finger broken, the fright we all felt when Justin and his friend Mason got thrown off the water skis straining their backs, when the grandkids put on a neighborhood play charged an entry fee and the makeshift stage collapsed, and the grand event when Uncle Guy rented the pavilion from the Army Corp of Engineers for the family reunion and we all played cornhole, volleyball, motorboat rides with unfortunately another camper’s dog getting off it leash and biting Grandma.
Fortunately, most of us don’t spend a great deal of time concerned with the insurance exposure each of the above examples present. We simply go about our daily activities without giving much if any thought to the exposures we are confronted with.
We can be at peace knowing that as the years have come and gone, the insurance industry has created insurance policies which have addressed these examples by including coverage in their homeowner’s policy or excluding them in the same policy. It is always a wise thing to do before you become involved in a particular event to check with your insurance company if that specific activity would fall under your homeowner policy.
Personal Liability Coverage
Unless you have a very restricted homeowner policy that doesn’t include a personal liability section your homeowner policy will provide legal and monetary assistance to you in the event you are liable for the damage to another person’s bodily injury or to another person’s property whether it occurs on or off your property. A nice thing about personal liability under a homeowner policy is it provides worldwide coverage.
Take for example Dad’s burnt offering or Ellen’s strawberry pie making someone sick. If during investigation the adjuster can determine who actually caused the illness, he will pursue a claim under that person’s individual homeowner policy. If he can’t, the adjuster will pursue coverage from the liability policy of the person sponsoring the event.
In an effort to expedite coverage and for good public relations, most liability policies have a limited premise medical coverage. This monetary source will be used where it is difficult to determine who actually was at fault before the company even has to determine if there is liability. A case in point here is the example of the kids playing frisbee football. No one knew for sure who caused the injury but during the course of the game, it did get injured. In this case, it did go to the point of having the property owner’s personal liability policy activated due to the extent of the injury. The company decided to pay in order to keep the litigation process expenses from being incurred.
Since an individual cannot be liable to one’s self, the example of the two skiers will illustrate this point. The owner of the boat was operating the boat while his son Justin and the friend Mason were skiing. Mason’s hospital bill was paid for by the liability coverage from the homeowner policy while Justin had his expenses paid by the father’s individual health plan. Mason was first dollar coverage while Justin had to meet the deductible and coinsurance provisions of the health plan.
What about the horse backing into Grandpa’s pickup? The granddaughter was riding a horse belonging to her father but she was on Grandpa’s property. Does it matter? No, her father’s homeowner policy provides coverage for damage caused by any member of his household whether on or off the designated premise. If they had not had insurance, Grandpa could pursue coverage from his own automobile material damage who then could subrogate if it chose to do so against the girl’s father.
A family reunion could be classed as a special event but it doesn’t require any particular policy to cover the events normally. Just be certain participants who bring boats, horses, ATV,s, etc. are adequately insured. In the example used above, the owner of the dog who got off his leash did have coverage. Using the Corps of Engineers campsites is a circumstance where you use it at your own risk so it would be pretty difficult to show the corp was liable in some way. The following are areas you would definitely want to get professional advice regarding. Some liability policies do have provisions for some events i.e. lemonade stands, roadside fruit stands, 4-H, Boy and Girl scout participation and similar youth events but don’t assume they are covered.
The childrens’ play where a fee was charged would probably require some specialty policy. Some hungry attorney may go as far to determine who built the stage and was it properly constructed. The carpenter could possibly be held responsible for the injuries incurred.
Rodeo events are becoming more and more popular as people turn to those events to fill up their social events.
Most insurance companies have a dim view of any events where horses are involved. Horse boarding, riding classes, horse-drawn sleigh rides will definitely fall outside liability coverages provided by a homeowner policy People just getting together to enjoy horse riding is one thing but when they become sponsored or a fee is charged to participate, they become a different animal. These events can be covered with event insurance specifically underwritten for that event so check with your insurance company before pursuing any horse events.
Uncle John was fortunate he wasn’t in the car when the fireworks exploded so he wasn’t hurt and the car was covered under his comprehensive coverage. What would have been the results if the fireworks exploded at his intended event? Here are a couple of scenarios.
If it was just a family gathering his homeowner policy would cover fire damage to his home and other property while his car insurance would cover damage to vehicles. No medical coverage would be available to his family while a quest perhaps could be taken care of through the premise medical provision. Keep in mind the fireworks involved would have to have been those authorized in the state you live in. In some states, illegal fireworks are easy to obtain by simply driving across the state line. A case in point is Idaho is very restrictive as to the kind of fireworks you can use but just across the border into Montana and on the Indian reservation of Idaho some pretty powerful firework pieces are indiscriminately available. Law enforcement is pretty lax when it comes to those being fired off in Idaho. If they are illegal, you can rest assured your insurance company is not going to pay for any damages done.
This is a good time to have an insurance check up to make sure your coverages are where you want them to be and your liability limits are adequate for the exposures you anticipate having.
Coming to the close of summer with the celebration of Labor Day you should not have to worry about extra expenses for insurance unless you are planning some major blowout. It should just be a time for building fond memories to get you through until you are ready to build some new memories you can sit around next year’s fireplace remembering when…