If a Trick-or-Treater Gets Sick from the Candy I Handed Out This Year, Who’s Responsible?

Find out how the right coverage protects you against liability scares and other dangers.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Treats gone bad

Though it’s mainly associated with mischief and goblins, Halloween also has an aspect of generosity, in the form of handing out tasty candy to kids in costumes. But there’s always a risk that those well-intentioned treats could wind up being a trick in and of themselves. So what happens if a trick-or-treater gets sick from the candy you handed out this year? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Fortunately an independent insurance agent can not only help you answer this question, but also clear up any other insurance concerns you may have. Independent insurance agents are experienced in handling claims for all kinds of obscure situations, so they know exactly how to get you the coverage you need, long before you ever need it. Here’s how they’d help protect you against a trick-or-treater getting sick from the candy you handed out.

Who’s Responsible If a Trick-or-Treater Gets Sick from the Candy I Handed Out?

You may have been expecting only holiday-spirited fun by handing out candy to costume-clad children, but matters could turn ugly if one of the trick-or-treaters gets sick afterwards. If a kid gets sick from the candy you handed out, their parents might choose to sue you. The really tricky part would be proving the illness stemmed from the treats from your house. But though you may not end up being held liable for the claim in court, you’d still have to deal with the legal case.

If the trick-or-treater’s parents can prove you caused their kid to get sick from your Halloween offerings, you could end up with a real nightmare on your hands. If either of these claims hold up in court, you could be found liable:

  • Food poisoning: Whether you bought candy that was long past its expiration date or let it melt to the point of going bad in your car, food poisoning is a legit claim to be found guilty of.
  • Disease transfer: Maybe the candy or other treats weren’t actually bad, themselves. Food of any kind can act as a carrier for disease that’s passed along by you or another member of your household, and yes, you can get sued for it.

A lawsuit could certainly turn a festive holiday into a nightmare, fast. But fortunately there’s a way to protect yourself against food poisoning claims and many other kinds of mischief, in the form of insurance coverage.

Which Insurance Would Protect Me If My Candy Poisoned a Trick-or-Treater?

No matter whether the candy you handed out on Halloween was bad from the get-go or was carrying another person’s illness along with it, your homeowners insurance would protect you in the event you got sued. Both food poisoning and communicable disease transfer are covered by standard homeowners insurance. If the poisoned kid’s parents were actually able to prove it was your candy that caused the illness in court, your homeowners insurance would cover you.

Important Liability Coverage for Trick-or-Treating Participants

Though you may not end up being found guilty for the charge against you, either way the liability coverage section of your homeowners insurance would protect you if you got sued. Liability coverage offers two important forms of protection:

  • Legal fees expenses: Liability coverage reimburses policyholders for fees relating to attorney and court expenses if they’re sued by a third party. Even claims for bad Halloween candy are covered.
  • Medical payments: If the trick-or-treater got sick enough to require medical treatment, your liability coverage would also pay for the costs of their doctor visits or other care.

Liability coverage can seriously help lessen the impact of a tragedy. Your independent insurance agent can help you make sure you’re set up with all the coverage you need for Halloween and every other day of the year.

What Else Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners insurance offers crucial liability coverage, but that’s not all. Your policy protects you from many kinds of common and rare disasters, including:

  • Riots
  • Vandalism
  • Explosions
  • Theft
  • Many natural disasters (i.e., windstorms, hail, lightning, and blizzards)
  • Falling objects
  • Fallen trees
  • Aircraft/vehicle damage
  • Fire and smoke

Talk with your independent insurance agent to find out all the important ways your homeowners insurance provides the coverage you need to feel safe and secure at any time, not just after Halloween.


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What If I Don’t Have Homeowners Insurance?

Even though you gave out treats, if it turns out that one of your visitors got sick from the candy you handed out on Halloween and you’re lacking insurance coverage, you could end up with a real trick on your hands. Without liability coverage, if you got sued, you’d be left to pay the legal expenses out of your own pocket, and even just the lawyer could be really pricey. It’s best to get set up with all the coverage you need right away, just in case of any unforeseen disasters.

Does My Homeowners Policy Need Extra Endorsements?

Considering the case of a sick trick-or-treater, no, your homeowners policy probably wouldn’t need any extra endorsements to fully cover you. That being said, there are plenty of more serious events and special scenarios in which a homeowner would need to add various coverages in order to be fully protected.

The following are common home insurance endorsements:

  • Earthquake insurance: Also known as earth movement policies, this coverage protects homeowners against home damage due to earthquakes, mudslides, and other related natural events. Standard homeowners policies do not provide coverage for these types of disasters.
  • Flood insurance: Many natural disasters are covered under standard homeowners insurance policies, but floods aren’t one of them. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you’ll want to purchase a flood insurance policy to protect your home against damage or destruction due to flood waters.
  • Sewer backup endorsements: Homeowners insurance protects you against a lot of things, but typically sewage backup isn’t one of them. While this incident would be messy enough in the first place, not having coverage would really be a nightmare.
  • Personal property endorsements: Standard homeowners policies place limits on expensive personal property items like jewelry and electronics. If you’re worried about these items getting stolen, lost, damaged, or destroyed, it’s a good idea to purchase endorsements for specific pieces you’d like to increase coverage limits for.
  • Home-based business endorsements: While standard homeowners policies protect against third party injuries on your property, you’re not protected if you run a business out of your home. You’ll need to add this endorsement if you have a home office or studio in order to ensure you have adequate liability coverage.

If you’re concerned that your homeowners insurance may be lacking important coverage in any area, talk to your independent insurance agent about possibly adding endorsements to your policy.

Would I Need Umbrella Insurance If I Got Sued?

Probably not, if you’re only getting sued for making a trick-or-treater sick. Umbrella insurance acts as an additional layer of liability protection, because the coverage stacks on top of your existing homeowners policy. So, umbrella insurance would increase the liability coverage you already had to a much higher limit, typically $1 million or more. Food poisoning claims don’t tend to require this much coverage, so for the Halloween scenario, you’re not likely to need umbrella insurance.

What Scenarios Would Require Umbrella Insurance?

Though your poisonous candy may not result in a lawsuit that would break the bank without enough coverage, there are plenty of common cases filed against homeowners that really would require umbrella coverage. These cases include:

  • Accidents: Third-party injuries happen frequently and can require costly medical treatment. Slips and falls on icy sidewalks are a common example.
  • Dog bites: Injuries caused by a beloved family pet can cost an average of $30,000 in claim settlements.
  • Intoxicated guests: If a party guest had a little too much to drink on your property, you as the homeowner would be held responsible for any property damage or bodily injuries the intoxicated guest caused to others.
  • Hired help injuries: If a domestic worker, such as a maid or gardener, gets injured on your property due to your failure to maintain safe premises, the resulting lawsuit and medical payments required could get expensive, fast.
  • Fallen trees: If a tree on your property falls and damages your neighbor’s home, the resulting damage could easily reach into the tens of thousands.

While you may not need umbrella coverage to protect you against angry parents with a sick treat-or-treater, it’s still critical to know the more common and very real scenarios in which umbrella coverage would be necessary to protect you.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting you against handing out bad candy on Halloween, and all other strange incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. These agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners and umbrella insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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