Halloween is strange, from an insurance standpoint. For just one night, a group of complete strangers are going to arrive at your door, expecting to receive candy and treats. Most of these strangers will be children, and not all of them will be accompanied by adults. All of them will be wearing a costume, which means they may be wearing masks that obstruct their vision, or an outfit that makes it difficult for them to walk around. There is great potential that an accident will happen! Unfortunately, there isn’t anything called “Halloween Insurance”. So, what can you do to protect yourself, and others, from liability?
A neighborhood in Washington has been trying to answer that question. For years, this particular neighborhood has become extraordinarily popular with trick-or-treaters. The problem isn’t with the children. It is with the cars. Most of the parents who take their children to this neighborhood on Halloween prefer to drive their vehicles down the streets, as the trick-or-treating kids zig-zag across. This creates an unsafe situation.
The residents of this neighborhood worked together to attempt to get a permit that would allow them to close off the street to traffic. If the cars cannot drive down these streets on Halloween night, the children who are trick-or-treating on foot would be much safer. This sounded like a good idea, but there were problems. If the permit was issued, it would mean that Halloween was, technically, an “event”. An event would require written notification of it to all 1,100 homes in the area, and would also require a group to purchase liability event insurance. But, Halloween isn’t really an “event”, so there wasn’t any kind of insurance that would apply to this unique situation. And who, exactly, would be expected to purchase the policy?
However, there are things you can do to protect yourself, and your property, from a potential lawsuit on Halloween. It comes down to using your common sense. Make sure your homeowners (or renters) insurance is up to date. It should provide you some coverage if someone is accidentally injured while he or she is on your property. Turn on outdoor lights to make your house easy to see and navigate. Bring you dogs inside while the trick-or-treating is going on, to prevent any potential of a claim that your dog bit someone on Halloween. The best way to prevent “tricks” from being played on your property is to make it clear that someone is home, who is watching what is going on outside the house. You may also want to put your car inside the garage on Halloween, just in case.
Image by Randy Robertson on Flickr