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Discussion Starter #1
First I'd like to apologize, I know that this has been asked several times but I have yet to see a real clear answer.

For all those that through a home haunt every year, do you have any kind of event insurance or do you just cross your fingers and pray? We throw a home haunt that is based off goodwill donation and pray that nothing happens. We live in an old Mortuary and do the haunt inside of our home. The flyer we put out says $5 goodwill donation. We certainly do not make a profit I spend every penny that we get from donations on next year's haunt.

What do other home haunters do to protect themselves from a lawsuit?
 

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First I'd like to apologize, I know that this has been asked several times but I have yet to see a real clear answer.

For all those that through a home haunt every year, do you have any kind of event insurance or do you just cross your fingers and pray? We throw a home haunt that is based off goodwill donation and pray that nothing happens. We live in an old Mortuary and do the haunt inside of our home. The flyer we put out says $5 goodwill donation. We certainly do not make a profit I spend every penny that we get from donations on next year's haunt.

What do other home haunters do to protect themselves from a lawsuit?
Not trying to stir the proverbial pot here, but if your asking for a $5 donation to be paid to goodwill, then putting that money back into the haunt, is that not considered a profit haunt? I know my homeowners insurance covers my tiny haunt cause it's more of a display once you start asking for money, even if it's for charity, that's a whole different story
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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Not a lawyer or insurance expert. But me personally, there is no way no how I'd hold a public haunt. Way too much risk involved.

I've seen this asked many times and the following is what I remember to be true from the variety for threads on the subject:

If you are taking money in - donations included - then you're putting yourself at greater risk for your regular homeowner's insurance denying any coverage in the event you are sued. I don't think that is something you should avoid finding out for sure. It would be devastating to get sued and find out later that you're not being covered.

Homeowner's insurance is for regular home coverage, not public events on your property. Turning your home into a venue for even charity is a public event/enterprise and as such leaves them open to saying you are not covered at all, and you personally on the hook for every last penny in judgement that is assessed against you in the matter of accident/injury that occurs on your property, even if it wasn't caused specifically by you or your haunt. It could be as simple as another person attacking someone and injuring them; the injured party could sue you for not having enough security and ensuring the safety of the patrons.

If you contact your insurance, you might get told differently. They may or may not cover, but with you advertising with flyers and taking money, I doubt you'd be covered at all, and you should probably look into a basic event coverage to keep from losing everything. Halloween should be scary in a good way, not in a lose-everything-and-have-your-wages-garnished-forever kind of way. :(


ETA: Icepick is right; your donations might also get you into trouble with the IRS, since you are not a charity. You're taking in money to spend for yourself, not giving that money to an actual charity. If you word it as a "goodwill" donation, I imagine that many patrons think you are donating the proceeds to the actual charity group "Goodwill" so it's kind of misleading. That is definitely a "for profit" type of thing no matter what you call it.
 

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Sorry Frankie's girl, I should have clarified that in my situation, I do not ask for anything from my visitors. Again I'm more a display that isn't even advertised. Flyers and/or any kind of "donation" does change things drastically. My best advice is to contact your insurance company. To many suppliers, with all their own regulations. What may be covered by one provider may not be by the next. Was just offering up based on my experience.
 

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I'm an insurance agent here in California and Frankie's Girl is pretty spot on. Trick or Treater trips running up to get candy and the family sues you? That should be covered under your standard home or renters insurance liability. A haunt that is advertised as an "event' or you accept money at? You would definitely want to look into event insurance of some sort. You can usually get a policy like that, at least here in California, for $175 - $300 and that gets you $1 million in coverage.

Like others said, contact your insurance agent to get their advice, as things do change state by state and company to company. Anyone in California feel free to contact me! Always happy to help a haunter out.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
okay I was wondering if anyone else did the event insurance thing I was planning on looking into that and calling our homeowners insurance. I left out that we do donate a portion of the proceeds to the local charities. I'm not sure what it turns into if I leave out the Goodwill donations and just charge as a ticket price I have heard some people say it's a good idea to get an LLC but I'm not sure what all that involves. I wouldn't have a problem with the local city ordinance getting a permit they're happy that we do something for the community and we don't use anything fire-related and keep safety at the highest regard so I'm sure the fire marshal would be an easy walkthrough. I would love to just set it up as a business but I have no idea where to get started.
 

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It is a darn shame that in this country folks trying to do something entertaining for kids and adults have to be concerned about this topic.

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His name is Roger Clyne
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It is a darn shame that in this country folks trying to do something entertaining for kids and adults have to be concerned about this topic.

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I don't think a for-profit business having insurance is a new or bad thing & you can get shut down by the fire marshall most places if you don't have things in order & meet local safety codes.

EVERY business has some sort of insurance to cover accidents their workers or customers may have & also have to be checked out by fire marshalls on the safety of the building & grounds, whether it's Walmart or a Lion's Club haunted house. It's part of being in business. I think it'd be safe to say that all of our for-profit haunts here have extra insurance for their haunts, especially the larger ones.

If you have a display in the yard that people look at, you don't need it, & if you have people walking through things your homeowners will cover it but when you get bigger & start asking for money to keep up the display & it's not a donation to a charity you get into that grey area & as far as I'm concerned I'd rather be safe than sorry.
 
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