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Vol. 8 - Issue 10
November 20, 2019


Encore: Randy Spencer’s Open Mic

Thanksgiving And Insurance Coverage: They Go Together Like Peas And Carrots








The amount of time and effort involved in hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is tremendous.  Believe me, I know.  I see what my wife goes through. 

But while she’s crazy-busy dealing with the bird, stuffing, mashed potatoes, three kinds of cranberry sauce, five types of vegetables, side dishes I’ve never even heard of and five different pies (including one with a gluten free crust -- for her annoying cousin Barry, who doesn’t stop talking about cross fit), it’s not like I don’t have my own challenges.  The Lions are 3-5 so far this season.  And they’re not going to turn into the 1972 Miami Dolphins between now and November 22.  Watching that Lions – Bears game is going to be a huge effort for me.  It might be more enjoyable to stand at the sink and peel the potatoes.    

But that’s not all I have to contend with.  It is my job to make sure that the Spencer family’s annual Turkey Day blow-out doesn’t turn into a financial catastrophe worse than taking the Lions with the points.  That give me the task of ensuring that our homeowner’s policy provides adequate coverage for all of the risks associated with having 20 people in the house -- each consuming as many as 4,500 calories -- except cousin Barry. 

Thanksgiving is rife with risks for which insurance is needed.  There are insurance companies named Mayflower Insurance Exchange, Pilgrim Insurance Company, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp. and Pie Mutual Insurance Co.  Really.  I’m not kidding.  All these companies must do is insure the hazards of Thanksgiving.

Thanks to reading my homeowner’s policy, we had liability coverage for all of the following Thanksgiving dinner mishaps over the years: 

Aunt Mildred nearly choked to death on that plastic thing in the turkey that pops up to tell you when it’s cooked.  She said she didn’t want to sue Butterball, because it’s her favorite company and “wouldn’t dream of doing that to them.”  But she was fine suing me.  Coverage was provided for “bodily injury” caused by an “occurrence.”        

My wife told her sister that she’s grateful we stopped going to cousin Gladys’s for Thanksgiving because her turkey was always dry.  Gladys overheard this, was outraged and sued my wife for defamation.  Coverage was provided for “personal and advertising injury.”        

Annoying cousin Rex insisted on showing off his new drone, along with pontificating about how drones will be changing the way we live.  The drone crashed onto the hood of my neighbor, Frank’s, Jag.  Coverage was provided for “property damage” caused by an “occurrence.”  Drones may not change the way we live, but one drone changed the way Frank drove for a week.  He had a Toyota Corolla rental.         

Cousin Mitchell brought all of the gear needed to deep fry a turkey.  It’s perfectly safe, he assured me.  Coverage provided for the three houses that went up in flames.  Cousin Barry commented that that’s what happens when you cook an unhealthy turkey.

My wife, accused by Aunt Shirley of using her mother’s string bean casserole recipe, was sued for theft of trade secrets.  Coverage was provided for “property damage” caused by an “occurrence.”  [See “Wow! Court Holds That Trade Secrets, Being Tangible Property, Are “Property Damage,” discussed in this issue of Coverage Opinions.]        
89 year old Uncle Max told Cousin Cindy’s two-year old son, Cody, that he was going to take Cody’s nose off.  Max grabbed Cody’s nose -- but pulled too hard.  Cody’s nose was detached.  It was alleged that I was responsible because I should have known that Max sometimes pulls too hard on kid’s noses.  Coverage was provided for “bodily injury” caused by an “occurrence.”        
Potential coverage denial prevented when Uncle Peter stopped me from punching Cousin Phil for saying, for the ninth straight year, that we really ought to have a turducken.   

And liability risks aren’t all that should be on your mind.  Property losses have abounded too.  Once again, thanks to the homeowner’s policy, we were safe and sound in all of the following scenarios.  

Uncle Charlie used the fancy guest towels in the powder room.  Sure, he was a guest.  But even guests aren’t allowed to us them.  The guest towels were covered property under an all-risks homeowner’s policy.

Aunt Matilda confused the urn, holding our beloved Scooter’s ashes, with a gravy boat.  A cocker spaniel’s ashes are covered property under an all-risks homeowner’s policy.  But a dispute arose over how to value them.  It’s going to appraisal.       

93 year old Uncle Sam fell into a deep tryptophan–induced sleep on the sofa after dinner.  A steady stream of saliva dripped out of his mouth for an hour.  The stained sofa cushion was covered property under an all-risks homeowner’s policy.


That’s my time. I’m Randy Spencer. Contact Randy Spencer at

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