Tailgating 101

Tailgating can often be one of the best parts of any sports or event experience, but like most things that are fun, risks of damages, injuries and the resulting liabilities are lurking right around the corner.  David Bear joins the podcast to discuss insurance risks to tailgaters and how they can avoid the loss column, and Chuck Hembree offers insight into hosting a tailgate for anyone who may be earning some extra cash by letting people park on their property on game days.

Below is a transcript of the episode, lightly modified for your reading pleasure.

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[Grant FINLEY] Welcome to another episode of Your Insurance Connection Podcast by CLH Insurance.  I’m your host, Grant Finley.

A tradition among many Americans is to fill parking lots and occasionally both public and private lawns on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall with much anticipation and enthusiasm for the football game or other sporting event they’re about to witness in what is affectionately referred to as tailgating.  If you’ve never been to a tailgate – you’re missing out.  If you have, then you probably know that worrying about insurance is the last thing on your mind, but…

[David BEAR] There is a lot of risk when it comes to tailgating.  You’re opening yourself up to a lot of exposures there.

[FINLEY] That’s David Bear, CLH Insurance’s Account Executive in Kansas City and the two of us recently discussed tailgating and what tailgaters should be mindful of so they can enjoy the weekend and aren’t stuck filing a claim.

[BEAR] Some of the more common ones you’ll see: accidentally setting your car on fire or putting a hot grill inside your vehicle.  That’s one of them.  Vandalism.  Food poisoning is another one.  There’s fights as well as tossing football in the parking lot.  You could accidentally damage someone’s property.

[FINLEY] Let’s take a look at these scenarios one by one, starting with accidentally setting your vehicle on fire.

[BEAR] Some of the ways you can prevent setting your car on fire or putting the hot grill into your car causing damage inside is obviously, keep the grill at a good safe distance away from your vehicle.  I know there's a lot of vehicles jam packed into a smaller parking lot, but try to keep your grill as far as away from vehicles as possible.  And then also, make sure you allow time for the cool down before you're putting it in there.  So, maybe you want to pack the grill up before the game starts, so give yourself time to shut the grill down and let it cool off before you go putting it in your vehicle.

[FINLEY] Fortunately, if this spell of bad luck were to fall upon you, adding comprehensive coverage to your auto policy will provide the necessary coverage.  Now what if your car is vandalized by those rival fans?

[BEAR] When it comes to fans of the opposite team, I know there's a lot of rivals out there but don't make enemies.  Have fun with everyone and enjoy those around you.  Kinda watch out for that, maybe some hot heads are around and just kind of avoid contact with them but, if someone's going to vandalize it's kind of hard to prevent that if they have that made up in their mind but, really the best way to prevent vandalism, and I briefly mentioned fights earlier, is just avoid the people that seem to have hot tempers and just have fun. 

[FINLEY] David also said to chalk this particular protection up to the comprehensive coverage added to your auto insurance as well.  Let’s assume you know how to properly use and store a grill and you haven’t made any enemies at the tailgate, things are looking pretty good for you.   That is, until someone in your group starts to experience a food-borne illness.  Here’s David again to break down how food poisoning can come into play and how to make sure it doesn’t wreak any havoc on your party.

[BEAR] So you can get food poisoning at a tailgating party, you know, maybe your grilling chicken and the chicken’s not cooked all the way through and everyone starts partaking and eating and they end up sick because of that.  So that's one way food poisoning could happen, and also with tailgating, they're not very sanitary.  You have the restrooms and there's not a lot of places to wash your hands or sanitize, and so those are other ways that illnesses could spread.  Ways to prevent that is just - if you can carry a the smaller meat thermometer with you and just check the temperature of the meat as you’re cooking it, also keeping plenty of hand sanitizer next to your tailgating site are a couple great ways to prevent illnesses or food poisoning.

[FINLEY] Giving your friends food poisoning is definitely a party foul.  Thankfully, with a simple homeowners or renters policy you’ll be covered from this potential faux pas.  Speaking of party fouls, think twice before showing off your cannon-of-an-arm and accidentally leading your defenseless receiver right into the neighboring tailgate’s set up, damaging any of their property or causing an injury.

[BEAR]  Yeah, so with tailgating you see this all the time.  Guys just tossing the ball around and we get carried away a little bit and try to see how far we can throw that pigskin but you may hit someone's expensive speakers or maybe they have a TV out there or even their grill, you knock their grill over and break it, damage some of their personal property.  Ways to prevent that would just be: keep the ball close, try to stay close to your tailgating site.  Don't get too carried away like I said I know that's fun and we like to go for the long ball but try to keep it close and if something were to happen, your homeowners, renters, or condos insurance would typically pick that up.

[FINLEY] Let’s fast-forward to after the game.  Hopefully your team pulled out the victory and spirits are still high, but if they lost and you’re ready to get out of there and wash off the smell of defeat, make sure you don’t accidentally hit another car in your haste.

[BEAR] Yeah, so you're on your way out of the game, you're ready to get home and you rear-end the person in front of you or just trying to get out of there quickly.  This would be picked up by your auto insurance and one way to prevent this is: just don't be in a hurry to get out.  I know it can take a long time but just take your time and be observant of the drivers around you.

[FINLEY] It’s been said that about 20% of all motor vehicle accidents take place in a parking lot so remember to use caution.  In fact, if you’re not being kicked out by whoever is allowing you to park on their lot, you should already have everything you need to hang out a little while longer. Why not let the traffic die down first?  And what about that person letting you park on their lot?  If I live close to a stadium and charge people to park on my lawn to earn a little extra cash on game day, am I liable for any injuries or damages that occur on my property?   To answer that, we turned to President of CLH Insurance, Chuck Hembree.

[Chuck HEMBREE] There are several answers to it depending on the situation.  Is the tailgating going to be taking place on the premises where the car is parked?  Then I could have some alcohol or liquor liability, as well as, just plain exposure to property damage if the car or the vehicle is damaged while it's in my position and I'm charging for it.  The problem is when you say that you're charging, some courts might say that you're now a business and homeowners may not cover it because they're going to consider it a business, not a regular homeowners expense.  The second thing then is if all they're doing is parking I'm making a charge and they're going tailgating at the stadium then I really don't have any liability for the liquor liability.  Yes, I may observe them coming back drunk and maybe some slight liability there but that removes my liability because it didn't happen on my premises and underneath my guise.  So the main liability that I think is there when you're taking money for them parking on your property is you risk the exposure to property damage to their vehicle, whether it’s through vandalism or any other thing.  And be very careful when you're charging for that.  I would even advise having a waiver or release of damage if you're going to do that.  That doesn't eliminate a claim or a suit, but it sure shows good due diligence.

[FINLEY] Whether it’s a football game, a concert, or any other event that involves tailgating, there will always be insurance risks, but hopefully, equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to navigate your way to more tailgating wins and fewer losses.  Most importantly though… well, I’ll let David tell you.

[BEAR] Yeah, bottom line is: have fun at the tailgate.  Just be responsible.  If you're going to drink, be responsible.  If you have any questions as to different scenarios that may be covered under your homeowners or your auto, it’s always best to ask your insurance agent before you participate it in an event.  So, never hesitate to reach out and ask your insurance agent, but again, have fun and enjoy it.

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