Resources & Insights

Insurance and the Undercooked Thanksgiving Turkey

November 22, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses each year.

food poisoning
CCIG’s Daniel Rizzo

Ugh, right? Just how many of those illnesses occur at Thanksgiving no one knows, but with so many Americans thawing their turkeys at room temperature, the potential for food poisoning is definitely present, regardless of how long your bird stays in the oven.

Unfortunately, as a host, you can be liable if someone becomes sick after digging into that feast you labored to prepare.

Fortunately, a typical homeowner’s insurance policy will most likely cover the cost of a trip to the ER.

Yes, seriously.

What happens if your guest runs up medical bills beyond that stop in the ER? Well, again, your homeowner’s policy has a liability limit – typically a minimum of $100,000 – that may help pay those bills.

Better still, your insurer could pay your legal expenses in case things get really ugly.

Not all policies offer that kind of protection, so it’s important to ask your broker and be sure.

Read: Holiday food safety tips

For some Americans, the liability limits built into a standard policy may be enough. On the other hand, it’s not hard to reach most limits, so carrying an extra $1 million or more through an umbrella policy is always worth considering, especially if your household income is higher than average.

One last word on this, just in case anyone gets the wrong idea:

No policy, regardless of how much you might be willing to pay, will cover you if you poisoned somebody on purpose.

In insurance talk, intentional and illegal acts are excluded.

Oh, and by the way, don’t be surprised if your rates go up after hosting a Thanksgiving dinner no one wants to remember.

Daniel Rizzo is a CCIG personal lines account manager. Reach him at or 720-330-7905.

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