Football tailgates offer fans a chance to escape the weekly grind and cut loose in the name of bone-crunching tackles and char-grilled meats. But nothing brings tailgaters crashing back to reality faster than game-day festivities gone wrong.

A combustible mix of alcohol, open flames and dense traffic, to name a few factors, can make tailgates ripe for costly accidents and injuries. In many cases, the right insurance coverage can spare you from paying for these mishaps on your own.

Here are five potential tailgating blunders that illustrate why it’s smart to review your insurance game plan.

Covered by: Auto insurance

The play by play: Like end zones and excessive-celebration penalties, grilling and tailgating just go together. But whether you get overzealous with the lighter fluid or accidentally leave hot coals in your trunk, car fires are a looming threat.

If you have comprehensive insurance, your auto policy will pay for a variety of problems not related to car crashes, including fires. Note that comprehensive coverage claims come with a deductible, which is a predetermined amount that insurers subtract from claim payments.

» COMPARE: Car insurance quotes

Covered by: Auto insurance

The play by play: Ideally, tailgate rivalries would never escalate beyond playful barbs and spirited debates. But the risk of opposing fans, say, spray-painting their team’s name onto your bumper may be another reason to add comprehensive insurance to your auto policy. This coverage will pay to repair damage stemming from vandalism, riots and civil disturbances, among other things, minus your deductible.  

Covered by: Homeowners, renters and condo insurance

The play by play: Without ready access to refrigeration, hand-washing stations and other kitchen conveniences, food safety is a major tailgating concern. If you happen to be helming the grill when a bad batch of chicken wings or brats circulates to the crowd, those who get sick might sue you for their medical bills.

If you have homeowners, condo or renters insurance, you may be able to avoid having to pay for others’ food poisoning treatment out of your own pocket. These policies generally provide personal liability insurance, which covers others’ bodily harm that you’re responsible for, up to your policy’s limit.  

» MORE: Understanding homeowners insurance

Covered by: Homeowners, renters and condo insurance

The play by play: Say you’re tossing the football around with friends when your best Hail Mary attempt gets away from you, damaging another fan’s expensive speakers. If he or she seeks reimbursement, your home, renters or condo insurance may be able to cover what you owe. The liability coverage in your policy typically will pay for damage you unintentionally cause to others’ property, even away from home.

Covered by: Auto insurance

The play by play: If you dent another tailgater’s vehicle in your haste to beat the rush home, car insurance kicks in as it would after any at-fault crash. Liability insurance pays to repair damage to the other driver’s vehicle, up to your policy’s limit. Collision coverage, if you selected it, can pay to fix your own car. However, if the damage to your vehicle is minor, it might not exceed your deductible, in which case you wouldn’t benefit by making a collision claim.

Alex Glenn is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:



The article 5 Football Tailgating Blunders Insurance Will Pay For originally appeared on NerdWallet.