Does home insurance cover backyard weddings?

Wedding season is here and what’s cuter than an old-fashioned backyard wedding? You can have all of your friends and family at home – a familiar place that holds so much meaning – plus, you can save on the costs of a venue. If you’re choosing to go this route for your big day, you’ll want to make sure you have the right liability insurance on your property. We know that insurance might be the last thing you’re worried about amongst all of the catering and guest list madness, but it’s an important one (especially if there’s an open bar!). Here’s everything you need to know about personal liability and hosting a backyard wedding.

What is personal liability and what does it cover me for?

Personal liability coverage is the part of your home insurance policy that covers you (and the people in your household) in the event that you’re sued or held responsible for damage to another person or their property. For example, if someone gets hurt while they’re at your home, you could be covered for any costs associated with that. These costs could be medical bills, legal fees, or repair costs for the damage. Liability coverage is considered the “shadow” coverage – it kind of goes with you wherever you go. Maybe you’re away traveling and break something super expensive at the hotel… your home insurance could cover you for the repair costs.

What insurance coverage does a backyard wedding need?

You might want to consider revisiting your home insurance policy before your wedding day to make sure you have adequate coverage in place. One detail to consider when determining if you need to up your coverage limit is the size of the guest list. The more people on your property partying and drinking, the more risk there is to someone hurting themselves. And while that person could be your uncle or distant cousin (meaning, they probably wouldn’t sue you), upping your personal liability limit would be a good safety net.

On the other hand, all of those people on your property at once also increases the risk of damage to your home or lawn. Consider how many people will be using the washrooms or how much electricity will be needed to power the lights and sound system. Adding extra coverages to protect your home from any damage might be worthwhile.

Permit to party

Unfortunately, yes, you’ll likely need a permit to host that big of a get together in your backyard. Check with your local municipality on the rules and regulations around hosting a private event – you might need a liquor license or could have to shut the party down at 11 p.m. depending on noise bylaws.

Most provinces will have “special occasion permits” or “special event permits” where you can register your wedding as a private event (meaning that only invited guests are showing up, and that it wouldn’t be advertised anywhere). These permits should include a temporary liquor license – but if you’re hiring a caterer, the servers will still need to be certified to serve alcohol (i.e. SmartServe in Ontario, or Serving It Right in B.C.).

Double check when you have to apply for the permit; most local fire/police/health departments must have 30 days’ notice for outdoor private events.

Extra insurance for your wedding

There are actually companies that provide wedding insurance who will include $5 million in liability coverage, versus the average liability on your home policy (which is normally $1 million). This policy would cover damage to the wedding venue (in this case, your home) and any injuries to third parties (the guests or vendors). But you wouldn’t just be paying for the extra liability; these policies also include coverage for any rented equipment, if the wedding gets cancelled (in the rare event that happens), and even if anything happens to your cake, flowers or gifts during the wedding! Depending on the size of the wedding and how many people are invited, $1 million in liability might not cover everything in the event of a claim, and the limits on your specialty and personal belongings might not cover damage to things like your gifts. It might be worth looking into extra insurance for your special day.

On that note, you can also purchase extra insurance for alcohol-related liability. When you purchase a special occasion permit, you’re purchasing “permission” to serve alcohol, but this doesn’t provide extra coverage if anything were to happen to intoxicated guests. Purchasing alcohol liability insurance would be specific to the event you need coverage for and might fill the gaps where your home insurance policy wouldn’t cover you. For example, if someone who is under the legal drinking age is served alcohol, this wouldn’t be covered under your home insurance policy.

We want your wedding day to run as smoothly as possible. If you’re planning on hosting everyone in the backyard, it’s best to call and let your insurer know. That way, they can inform you of anything extra you need specific to your property and you can focus on enjoying one of the best nights of your life.

Protect your home and the things you love most.