Bad Cook? Insurance Covers Food Poisoning

Last Updated Mar 2, 2010 10:15 AM EST

So let's say you have a dinner party. And let's say you're a bad cook. A really bad cook. Your guests not only don't like the meal, it makes them sick.

Good news. According to Insure.com, your homeowner's policy likely covers food poisoning claims. (Seriously, who knew?)

Bob Pasmore, director of personal lines coverage at the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America, confirms that the typical homeowners policy could cover this in one of two ways: If your guest just needed their medical bills covered, most policies provide between $1,000 and $5,000 in medical payments coverage per incident, per guest. (Not that they'd likely come back to dinner and need to file a second claim, but you never know.)

Secondly, your liability coverage would kick in if your guests sued for their pain and suffering too, he said. Liability limits are typically higher--in the range of $100,000--and cover the insurance company hiring an attorney to defend you, too.

What isn't covered is if you poisoned somebody on purpose, he said. Most policies exclude coverage for intentional and illegal acts. (Just thought I'd better throw that in for all the vengeful ex-spouses who are thinking "Well, she always said I was a really bad cook....")

How these food poisoning claims might affect your ability to get home owner's insurance in the future was less clear. Passmore says food poisoning claims are rare and he doesn't know of anyone who keeps track of them.

Homeowner's insurance claims are tracked in general, however, through a company called ChoicePoint, which operates the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange--CLUE for short. Some people have discovered to their dismay that a house with a claims history can be costly to insure.
That might not come as a shock to party-givers ("Our insurance rates went up?" "Well sure, honey, don't you remember the toxic dinner party that had our insurance agent cleaning out our refrigerator?") But it's unclear whether that claims history would be passed on with the home, like houses that have suffered heavy storm and flood damage.