Agents: Fourth of July Brings Risks & Claims
It has been a few years. Policyholders may have forgotten about that last barbeque mishap in their backyard. Maybe the memory has gotten hazy about that one time their college roommate drove home when they should not have. Perhaps their niece is older now, so she will not annoy the dog again, right?
Amid all the excitement and celebration of a long-delayed gathering at their house, agents can remind their party-hosting clients to make insurance adjustments needed to recover from backyard catastrophes. Independent insurance agents who know their clients well are more likely to know which customers to remind about backyard parties, like a Fourth of July barbeque.
In the unfortunate event that a guest on an insured property injures themselves in states and municipalities that allow fireworks, the homeowner’s liability coverage may cover legal, medical and other bills depending on the specifics of the accident. Each unique homeowners’ policy has limits and exclusions in its medical liability coverage, so discuss specific examples of what your client’s homeowners policy does and does not cover.
Homeowners could also be faced with lawsuits seeking damages that exceed their policy limits. The owner should have enough liability coverage to protect their assets, but many homeowners buy too little. You can advise them on how much it will cost to increase their limits. For example, an umbrella policy provides a higher level of protection of the party hosts’ assets. By recommending an umbrella policy, agents can have peace of mind knowing that their clients will be protected for any liability issues, or if they are held responsible for injuries or damage to others while hosting a Fourth of July party.
In 2020, nearly 15,600 people were hospitalized with injuries related to fireworks – the highest number in the last 15 years, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Many states and municipalities forbid or restrict their sale and/or use and it’s important that policyholders understand both the risks to health and safety as well as the limitations on coverage for any accident that might result from their use. Before they head to the fireworks popup shops – in the states where they’re legal – agents can warn clients of the potential dangers and how to avoid them.
In 2020, the CPSC estimated 3,100 injuries to hands and fingers occurred between June 21 and July 21. That makes them the most common emergency room injury treated after a fireworks mishap.
Insurance agents cannot heal an injury, but you are a trusted advisor beyond the purchase. Remind your customers to never hold a live firework in their hands, light them indoors, point or throw them at others. You can warn them away from legal issues with a reminder about state and local laws. Even if a town allows fireworks purchases, they may limit where and how they are used.
Many of us drink adult beverages to celebrate. The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest days for drunk driving, according to data from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). Ice-cold beers or a mixed drink “on the rocks” allow barbeque attendees to cool off. The guest may be unaware of just how much they have drank. For a host, alcohol related incidents are one of the largest areas of concern. If a guest unwittingly has too much to drink at a Fourth of July party and gets into an accident on the drive home, the homeowner may be held accountable for any injuries including those to third parties, passengers and any damage at the crash scene. Agents can remind hosts of this liability as it may require an adjustment to the policy to receive proper protection. Does their policy include liquor liability and host liability?
July is the peak month for cooking fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, on average about 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, most caused by malfunctioning gas grills. These fires cause an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 fatalities.
Thousands of people visit emergency rooms every year because they have burned themselves while barbecuing. Grilling accidents can happen when people leave the grill unattended, propane lines leak, grease builds up from lack of cleaning, inadequate burn protection is used to handle food and grills, and when explosions or fires occur unexpectedly.
If a party guest is injured due to a cooking fire related accident, the homeowner must ensure they have enough insurance coverage to cover any medical expenses or repair any potential damage caused. Agents can help homeowners prepare for these “worst-case” situations with a coverage review.
We forgot how much fun the Fourth of July can be. Don’t let your clients forget how risky the fun can be.
Fireworks calamities, alcohol related catastrophes and barbeque fails are among the most common insurance claims that result from hosting a Fourth of July celebration. Your homeowners may be hyper-focused on the planning of a party such as ensuring a crafted guest list, finding the most patriotic decorations and constructing a perfect menu, they should be warned against the potentially damaging risks that come with hosting a Fourth of July gathering.
This time of year is the perfect opportunity for independent agents to re-engage with their clients and ensure they have an enjoyable and safe summer under the sun. Be sure your clients address your yellow flag before their house guests wave the red, white and blue.
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