Host Liquor Liability and You

Host Liquor Liability and You


Liquor is usually available to most of us on a regular basis. It’s there at dinner parties, barbeques, birthdays, weddings and other special events like banquets, awards ceremonies and charity fundraisers. Whether you are an individual or a corporation, as soon as you become the “host”, you suddenly have the burden of responsibility to ensure that nothing bad happens as a result of being connected to the supply of that alcohol.

‘Host Liquor Liability’ refers to your responsibility when you are considered the ‘host’ providing and/or serving liquor to others.

If property is damaged or worse, someone is injured or killed and a court of law decided that you were somehow involved by virtue of the “event” you hosted where liquor was available, you could find yourself in a whole heap of trouble.


Businesses need to ensure that their broker is aware of all the activities and operations of their business, including any event hosting, holiday parties or fundraising, etc. Provided that the insurance company is aware of these activities, and you have met the requirements of the insurance policy, then the liability coverage should respond. Make sure you have adequate limits of coverage.

Depending on the nature of your business operations, your policy might specifically exclude liquor liability. If you are an individual, then your property insurance policy may or may not cover you adequately.


There is a way to avoid compromising future premiums or insurability as a result of having a liquor liability claim on your policy:

There are ‘Special Event’ policies that can be obtained for your specific occasion that will provide exactly what you need. These policies are a non-renewing, one-time coverage for a specified period, usually at very reasonable premiums. This way, if there is a claim, it’s not your business or personal policy that will respond (or be affected).

There are other inherent benefits as well. For example; often when your special event is at another venue, that venue will ask for a ‘certificate of insurance’ and the venue might ask to be added as an ‘additional insured’ to the coverage. Most personal property insurance companies would not want to provide either the certificate or the extension of coverage to the venue. That certificate is not an issue with the companies that provide these ‘Special Event’ policies.

Speak to your broker about how to best protect yourself against ‘Host Liquor Liability’ for your next occasion. Once your broker has you covered, you can relax and enjoy!

Snow Birds and Winter Vacations …

Snow Birds and Winter Vacations …


The winter months are on the horizon and the snow birds are preparing to head south. For us lowly humans who still have to work, but may be able to slip away for a week or two during the winter months, here are some important insurance items to remember.

When leaving your home, condominium, or apartment for more then 3 consecutive days during the normal heating season (this period of time may vary depending on the insurance company), your insurance will not pay for water damage caused by freezing UNLESS you do one the following:

  • Arrange for a competent person to enter your home daily to make sure the heat is maintained in order to avoid the possibility of pipes freezing.

Better yet, you should consider having them enter every room to ensure no damage has occurred.


  • Turn off the water supply coming into the home and bleed all the pipes, drains and appliances before you leave.


  • Have your plumbing and heating systems connected to a monitored alarm station providing 24 hour service.

In addition, as a property owner, you have a duty of care to make sure your property is safe for access for two different types of visitors:


A group of visitors who enter other people’s property for their own personal benefit or to perform their professional duties (firefighters, postal workers and utility companies); and


A group of people who enter another person’s premises at the invitation of the owner.

Therefore, snow removal and salting would be important to arrange while you are away in order to avoid a bodily injury or slip and fall claim. It is highly recommended that you review your home insurance policy to better understand your coverage, limitations and conditions. Your insurance broker can help you better understand your policy.

These are just a few suggestions regarding your property to keep in mind prior to your departure. Other than that, have a great time, enjoy the sun, wear sun block and don’t forget your travel insurance!

Protect Your Home from Winter Weather

Protect Your Home from Winter Weather

A unifying feature of being Canadian is the constant struggle with extreme winter weather.

Every winter we brace ourselves for the accompanying heavy snowfall and ice buildups by wrapping ourselves warm and putting winter tires on cars. However …

…. Are we doing enough, if anything at all, to minimize damage to our homes during such weather?

There are in fact a number of key things that homeowners can do ahead of time to prevent as much damage as possible. The first step is building a general level of awareness about their home and community’s vulnerability to severe winter weather.

  • Look at your local government website for any area-specific advice on protecting your home.
  • Have your municipality recommend a good home inspector to examine your home’s capacity to handle heavy snow loads and to determine the age of key structures such as interior plumbing.
  • Figure out whether you are in a snow belt area and thus in need of special precautions.

After assessing your level of risk, take targeted action to protect your home.

Start with your roof. The pressure generated from a significant amount of snowfall, freezing rain or a series of snow events can cause a roof to collapse. Look at the slope of your roof: the less it slopes, the more exposed it is to heavy snow and ice build-up. Aim for a slope that is greater than 10cm vertically and 30cm horizontally.

  • After a winter storm, check your roof for any new water leaks from the roof or attic, new internal door jams, new cracks in the drywall or plaster, and/or sagging on the ridge-line (where the two sides of the roof meet) on sloped roofs. Any of these are warning signs of an imminent roof collapse, and so if you notice these indicators take swift action to remove snow and ice buildup.
  • While it is always best to call a professional contractor to do these tasks, in the event that you remove buildup yourself there are a few techniques to keep in mind.
  • For snow removal, purchase a long snow rake with an extendable arm.
  • After removing snow layers, drain ice using electric heating cables to melt the buildup, or alternatively make use of a chemical de-icer by punching a hole in the ice every three feet that exposes the roof surface and fill each hole with the chemical.
  • Watch out for ice dams – a ride of ice that develops at the edge of your roof or drains which prevents snow or water from melting off your roof, subsequently causing leaks into walls and ceilings from the water that gets blocked behind the ice.
  • Look for attic penetrations, remove any roof heat sources from your attic, insulate any heat incandescent light fixtures, and seal any vents between your attic roof.

Finally, whenever the time comes to re-roof, have a secondary moisture or snow and ice barrier installed to prevent heat loss. Maintain your roof constantly to ensure drainage systems are free of debris and working properly.

Frozen pipes are a second main area of concern. They can cause water to back up and the pipe to rupture leading to substantial damage.

  • Before winter arrives, make sure to insulate any exposed pipes.
  • Seal any leaks that can seep into the house and lower temperatures, and disconnect garden hoses and shut the indoor valves that control water flow into the house.
  • Keep your thermostat temperature constant throughout the day, making sure when you’re out of the house that it is no lower that 12C (54F).
  • During a power outage, turn off the main water valve coming into your home to stop freezing in the pipes.

​Winter is Canada’s greatest challenge, but taking these steps, and keeping in touch with your insurance broker to make sure you’re covered financially in case of disaster will at least make this season a little bit less stressful.

Car Tune-Up Checklist for the Winter

Car Tune-Up Checklist for the Winter

The side of the road is no place to be stuck during winter’s frigid temperatures. To keep your car humming right along, it is best to schedule a winter tune-up with an auto mechanic you trust.

The checklist below outlines the key areas your mechanic should inspect to detect any problems that might leave you out in the cold.

Slick, icy roads are even more dangerous when your brakes are uneven. Your mechanic should check them to make sure they are equalised and not pulling to one side.

Cooling System
Your cooling system should be flushed every few years with an effective chemical cleaner and filled with new anti-freeze. At this time, your mechanic should also check the system’s belts, hoses, containers, pressure caps and thermostat.

Your car battery is not a fan of cold weather. If you’ve had the same battery for a few winters, have it checked and ensure the connections are tight, clean and corrosion-free.

Having your mechanic perform a pre-winter diagnostic check on your engine is a smart investment that will help ensure your car starts when you want it to. Before winter is also the perfect time to get a tune-up if your maintenance schedule calls for one. Either of these services will detect faulty spark plugs, pressure leaks, wiring issues, or other engine concerns that could be problematic down the road.

Exhaust System
Carbon monoxide leaks are even more troublesome in the winter when you keep your car windows closed. Have your mechanic check your muffler and tail pipes for issues.

Heaters, Defrosters and Wipers
A clear view of traffic is essential when the weather is bad. Have your mechanic inspect your wipers, windshield, defrosters and heaters for proper functioning. This is also the perfect time to buy winter wiper blades and cold-weather washer fluid.

Oil and filters
Dirty oil and filters are no way to start the winter season. Get an oil change and replace any worn filters including oil, air, fuel and transmission.

Improve your car’s traction in the snow by installing winter tires on all four wheels. Also remember to check your tire pressure regularly throughout the winter. Whenever the temperature decreases by 5⁰ C, your tire pressure will go down one pound.


  • Be prepared for tricky weather conditions by traveling with the following equipment:
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Snow brush and windshield scraper
  • Lightweight shovel
  • Wire traction mat or bag of sand
  • Inflated spare tire
  • Wheel wrench and jack
  • Flashlight and flares
  • Blanket
  • Candles/lighter/matches
  • Emergency snacks
  • Insulated winter boots
  • Hat and warm clothes
  • Large box of facial tissues
  • First aid kit
  • Small heating cans


  • Winter calls for defensive driving. Take extra caution in the following ways:
  • Remove snow and ice from your car before driving
  • Give yourself more time to travel
  • Be ready to respond to icy roads
  • Look out for unsafe drivers
  • Allow more space between your car and others

When the temperature drops to -20⁰C (-4⁰F), use a block heater to keep your engine oil and coolant warm. This helps your car start easily and can improve your fuel economy by 10 percent. A timer will help you switch on the block heater two hours before you expect to drive.

6 Safety Tips for Installing Christmas Lights

6 Safety Tips for Installing Christmas Lights

Just about everyone loves the look of Christmas lights. Installing them, on the other hand, is not always as simple as it looks.

The frustration that comes with a tangled web of lights, extension cords and outlets can cause some homeowners to resort to unsafe practices in an effort to just “get the lights on”.

However, as many fire departments and power companies can attest, what seems like an innocent bundle of wires and lights can be a serious fire hazard as well as an unnecessary stress on your home’s electrical system.


  • Plug your lights into a surge protector to prevent power overload.
  • Check the amp rating on your extension cord to make sure it can handle the appliance you plug into it. If the extension cord has a lower amp rating than the appliance, it will overheat.
  • Do not cluster Christmas lights in bunches. Doing so creates excessive heat that can melt wire coating and expose live wires. Frayed wires that come into contact with a metal ornament or hook are a shock hazard.
  • Inspect your cords and plugs for damage and replace as needed.
  • If you are installing Christmas lights outside, make sure you use outdoor Christmas lights. The package will tell you if the lights are okay for use indoors, outdoors, or both.
  • When you leave or go to bed, turn off your Christmas lights.