The holidays are prime time for houseguests. Whether it’s your siblings and their spouses or an elderly relative, it’s important to be prepared for your guests before they arrive.

Being prepared means more than just blowing up the air mattress and stocking up on snacks. It also means reviewing your insurance policy to be sure you’re covered in the event one of your guests is injured on your property. What changes should you consider if you’re hosting guests this holiday season?

Consider adding personal liability protection

Personal liability protection provides coverage in the event you or a family member causes bodily injury to another person, or damages another person’s property, and you are held legally responsible.

For example, if a guest trips and falls and is seriously injured on your premises, you may be held liable. If your guests are playing a friendly game of football and one of them accidently throws the ball through a neighbor’s window, or worse, causes severe injury to someone, you may be held liable. If your guests brings his dog and the dog bites someone, you may be held liable for the injuries suffered by the recipient of the dog bite. Liability insurance can provide a valuable defense and cover any out-of-pocket medical care.

How much liability coverage should I have?

This is a common question. An individual’s need for personal liability insurance depends on the amount and value of his or her personal property and assets. The liability coverage provided by a homeowner’s policy may not offer enough protection. For the broadest coverage, an excess liability policy or an umbrella policy is recommended in addition to the standard protection offered by homeowner’s insurance.

An umbrella policy also provides coverage for lawsuits over and above the limits provided on personal primary policies such as homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, and insurance for a second home. Even individuals with few assets still need to have adequate liability to cover losses incurred beyond the limits of a primary homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

Prepare now and enjoy the holidays

Aside from reviewing your insurance policy and purchasing additional coverage, if necessary, there are other things you can do to prepare your home for company and to help ensure the health and safety of your invited guests, including:

  • Making sure all rugs are secure and don’t present any slip and fall hazards. This includes any runners on stairways or in hallways.
  • Checking all wiring and cords to make sure they aren’t frayed and don’t present any shock hazard.
  • Inspecting sidewalks for any cracks or defects and making necessary repairs.
  • Checking stoops and patios for any loose bricks, tiles, or pavers, and securing them.
  • Putting away hoses and garden tools for the season.
  • Repairing any fences so they don’t present any splinter hazards or escape routes for children or pets.
  • Securing all indoor and outdoor railings.

The holidays are for spending time with friends and family and not for worrying about the prospect of an injury to your guests or a resulting lawsuit. By reviewing your insurance policies before your guests arrive, you can be prepared should any mishap take place. You’ll give yourself some peace of mind, which will allow you to simply relax and enjoy your visitors.

Heidi Petschauer graduated from St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., in 1983 with a B.S. in management. She joined her late father’s firm, Petschauer Insurance, in 1982, became principal in 1995, and now shares ownership with her partner and cousin, Erwin Petschauer. She received her Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation in 1997. She currently facilitates the professional and creative development of the entire Petschauer team and manages the personal lines and social media departments.