Tailgating Playbook: Play it Safe This Football Season

As football season kicks off, many Ohioans will celebrate the season with tailgates. To keep these fun-filled gatherings from turning into costly blunders, AAA’s insurance agents encourage tailgaters to follow three plays from the tailgating playbook.

”We all look forward to game day festivities with our friends and family, and insurance coverage is likely the furthest thing from our minds at that time, but we all must remember that tailgates can be breeding grounds for costly accidents and injuries,” says David McMullen, vice president of insurance. “Be aware of your surroundings, leave your valuables at home, and look out for the safety of yourself and others.”

1) Drive sober:
On average, drunk driving crashes kill one person every 45 minutes in the United States. Last year, in Ohio, impaired driving accounted for 34 percent of all fatal crashes, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. To prevent impaired driving, tailgaters should designate a sober driver, or call a cab or ride-sharing service.

Those hosting a tailgating party at their homes should be aware that Ohio’s host liability law holds those who serve alcohol liable if their drunken guests are involved in a crash on the way home. Homeowners insurance policies may cover this liability, but it can be avoided by making sure nobody drives home drunk.

2) Grill safely:
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, some 5,700 grill fires take place on residential properties every year. Most are caused by malfunctioning gas grills. These fires cause an average of $37 million in damage annually, and send thousands to the emergency room for burns. When grilling at a tailgate or at home, remember:

  • Place your grill at least 10 feet away from walls or tents
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Never leave a grill burning unattended
  • Clean grease from the grill and grill trays
  • Make sure the grill is cool before placing it back in a vehicle

If a grill fire occurs, a standard homeowners insurance policy will typically cover the damage. The liability portion of the policy will also cover any burns or food-borne illnesses suffered by your guests. If a hot grill catches your vehicle on fire, a comprehensive auto insurance policy can help cover the damage.

3) Deter thieves:
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Unified Crime Reporting Program, nearly 213,000 larceny-thefts occurred in Ohio during 2016, the latest available year of data. Those tailgating outside sporting venues should either leave valuables at home or hide them in the trunk with the doors locked when they go into the stadium to watch the game.

If theft does occur, a homeowners or renters insurance policy can help replace what’s lost. Most standard homeowners and renters policies ensure the same personal property coverage away from home as they do at home. Policyholders must present receipts or some proof of stolen items to receive reimbursement.

Not all insurance policies are the same. As an independent agency, AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency encourages consumers to regularly review their policies to ensure they are getting the best rate on coverage that fits their current needs.

“The right coverage is critical, both on the football field, and on your insurance policy,” said Ed Conley, director, Insurance Sales and Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “Take some time to review your policy now and make sure you’re not leaving your family exposed to some of these costly mistakes. Having a good game plan is the key to a safe and fun tailgating season.”

Additional insurance information is available at AAA.com/Insurance.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.