Hosting a party? Insurance can protect you

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland says requiring such an insurance policy is smart and something that lots of people should consider even if the venue doesn't demand it. For instance, if you sign a contract for your bridge club's annual picnic in the park pavilion and while you're there, one of the bridge players gets deathly ill on the deviled eggs, one of the people named in the lawsuit could be you -- the club volunteer who signed the contract, Holland says. "Anytime you are planning an event, you are assuming responsibility," Holland says.

Cost of the coverage

Will your homeowners insurance protect you? Maybe, says Holland. She suggests that before you buy any sort of separate liability policy, call your insurer and ask what the limits are on your homeowner's policy. Some policies won't cover the event and some will have strict and often low limits. If it appears that you need an event policy, ask if the company will sell you one or suggest a company that will.

How much will all this cost? Fireman's Fund offers a policy that starts at less than $300 -- "as much as you'd spend to invite another guest to the wedding," says Ruiz.

Hospitality Mutual's Haley says cost depends on which policy you select, but she advises against going cheap on the policy limits. Choosing a policy that has a maximum cap of $100,000 per event could leave you in a hole. She recommends at least $1 million and probably $2 million, which is likely to cost you about $450. Whatever liability limits you choose, make sure that coverage extends to all the perils you need.

Start your search for event insurance by contacting your homeowners insurance provider. If you aren't a homeowner, try your auto insurer. Or you can find lots of event insurance agencies by searching online. Ask which insurance company is providing the coverage, make sure A.M. Best gives it a rating of least A- and read the policy carefully before you sign.

While everyone expects to have a good time at your party, it's best to be prepared for unexpected calamities.

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