Underage Drinking: What Insurance Customers Should Know About Allowing It
Recently a family in Rhode Island took a different approach to underage drinking. The mother and father decided to allow drinking in their home provided the kids were able to obtain the alcohol themselves and that they hand over their car keys and did not leave the house or step outside once they had entered. The decision met with a great deal of controversy, according to a report from CBS News, with some parents taking the stance of “how dare you make that decision for my child.”
In a second recent report, Claims Journal noted that many states do not have laws on the books that prevent the allowance of underage drinking. Continuing with the Rhode Island example, the Mom and Dad who allowed the party didn’t technically break the law. But Louisiana is hoping to change that, and CJ reports they plan on doing so by “closing a loophole” that would allow underage consumption on private property.
DeSoto Parish Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle is pushing for a new ordinance to let deputies ticket anyone too young to drink who is found with alcohol on private property. The proposal is due to the fact that “Scores of underage drinkers can often be found during weekends on pastures, near remote oil wells and at homes,” he said.
Arbuckle continued: “The word has gotten around that they can be on private property and we can’t do anything to them but call their parents and tell them to come get them – that is if we can find their parents,” he said. “It amazes me we’ve got this going on at 3 a.m. and parents don’t even know where their kid is. I’m talking about 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds.”
CJ notes that information of the underage teen drinking parties is usually spread through Snapchat, a social network that allows pictures, videos, or text to disappear after being viewed. “Many don’t know the host,” he said.
As an insurance professional, you want to emphasize knowledge about the risks involved with underage drinking parties and one’s allowance of them. Many customers may think, “Better they do it here than somewhere else.” But in following this line of thinking, they may be setting themselves up for a rude awakening and a risk management nightmare.
When going over insurance products with customers, it may be beneficial to talk to them about the consequences of underage drinking.
It’s appropriate to touch on the dangers and the statistics of underage drinking and driving statistics, but many parents are probably already aware of this. If they get a glazed-over look in their eyes, chances are they’ve heard it — or think they’ve heard it ad nauseam. But what might really grab their attention coming from an agent are the insurance consequences of underage drinking. For starters, accidents or infractions that come as a result of underage drinking can send rates skyrocketing or they can get policies canceled altogether. Furthermore, it may not affect just driving if the insured is knowledgeably and willfully allowing their teens (and the teens of others) to drink on their property.
In the case of underage teen drinking parties, no matter how responsible the parent THINKS they’re being, the underwriters aren’t likely to see it the same way, and neither are the courts.
It’s important to trust one’s child, but parents should also be aware that kids will be kids and their young brains are not fully developed. This can lead to poor decision-making skills that will only be further impaired under the influence of alcohol. Allowing underage drinking is a very fine line to walk, and your insurance leads or customers should know all the implications, both legally and from an insurance perspective.