Table of Contents

Insurance and Licensing


Grad Night Liability Insurance is a Must!

It is extremely important that your Grad Night organization and party night event be covered by general liability insurance.

Word to the Wise: General liability insurance typically provides coverage for "negligent" acts such as causing someone bodily injury, personal injury or property damage.

Word to the Wise: In some cases, a Grad Night is insured under a sponsoring organization (such as a PTA) insurance policy. There can be problems with this type of arrangement. Some insurance companies do not recommend that the sponsoring organization extend their liability to include other organizations. In any case, your Grad Night organization must ensure the sponsoring organization insurance policy will provide adequate coverage for all Grad Night volunteers and the event.

  • Do not make the mistake of assuming that no one will be hurt or that no one will sue. An accident, which is the result of unintentional negligence, is still negligence.
  • Do not make the mistake of assuming that your Grad Night is automatically protected by someone else (such as PTA, school, or vendor insurance policy...).
  • In most cases, the best type of policy is an independent policy for your specific Grad Night.
  • Ensure your liability policy includes coverage for all of your events. For example, some insurance policies require purchasing additional insurance coverage (amendments) to include all Grad Night events (such as additional coverage for "Athletic or Sports" events like volleyball, basketball, skating, swimming...). Identify and discuss all of your Grad Night games and events with your insurance company to ensure your Grad Night is fully covered.
  • There are insurance companies who provide General Liability Insurance for Grad Nights (and other school support groups). Contact GRADNIGHT.ORG for additional information regarding these insurance vendors.

Grad Night Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance

Word to the Wise: Directors and Officers (D and O) insurance provides coverage for "intentional" acts taken by a Board of Directors that someone else thinks are wrong. These acts are intentional willful actions that result in some type of damage to a person other than bodily injury such as wrongful termination or alleged age discrimination of an employee.

In some cases, a Grad Night organization may wish to obtain "Directors and Officers" liability insurance. Additional information on D and O insurance is available from the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance of California (

Vendor Liability Insurance is Mandatory!

If you hire vendors, ensure the vendors have liability insurance. Prior to the Grad Night event, obtain a copy of their insurance verification form. Typically the vendors will provide a verification form that confirms your Grad Night party event is covered and that your Grad Night organization is named as an "additional insured" on their policy. Ensure you file this copy in your permanent record file. If a vendor damages the facility or anyone is injured, you will have proof of vendor insurance and access to the vendor's insurance company.

Reduce Your Liability Exposure: Think Safety

To reduce liability, think safety at all times. It is mandatory that you consider safety for all phases of Grad Night. Comply with all applicable safety rules and regulations provided by the Grad Night facility, your school, law enforcement officers, and the Fire Marshall.

  • If you are inspected by any of the above groups, request a copy of the inspection from the inspector for your records. Ensure you file this copy in your permanent record file.
  • Follow all applicable rules set by the Grad Night facility, school, law enforcement officers and the Fire Marshall.
  • Review certification cards from personnel who are working in areas that require trained certified personnel (such as medical first aid areas). Ensure all certifications are current and are as required by law.
  • Prepare an emergency evacuation plan for the Grad Night facility. Ensure cognizant volunteers, particularly Security staff and Executive committee, are familiar with the evacuation plan.
  • Minimize "high risk" activities. One insurance company identified the following types of games/activities as "high risk:" Slam Dancing; dunk tanks; Moon bounce; castle bounce; and type of animal ride; fireworks; athletic/sports events (such as basketball, football, skating, swimming, volleyball), and darts or dart games. This list is not inclusive.
  • Ensure you have adequate supervision at all of your games.
  • Ensure you have adequate security to minimize and control problems such as gatecrashers, pushing and shoving and general unsafe "horseplay."
  • Ensure the volunteer security personal are properly trained and know the location of the nearest fire alarm and emergency communications.
Think Safety!!


Video Licensing: Permission to Show Commercial Videos

ALL celebrations that plan to use commercial videos (i.e. major Hollywood movies) MUST have a license. It doesn't matter how or where the video is obtained, a one-night license MUST be purchased from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation.

The Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) is an independent copyright licensing service exclusively authorized by major Hollywood motion picture studios to grant Umbrella Licenses to corporate entities and any other organization or institution (both profit and non-profit), as well as federal, state and local government, for the public performance of videos and DVDs. For information (or to discuss fees) call, write or visit:

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation
5455 Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90066
(800) 462-8855 (in CA: 310/822-8855)

THE COPYRIGHT LAW The Federal Copyright Act (Public Law 94-553, Title 17 of the United States Code) contains simple, straightforward rules governing showings of video material. These rules are summarized in the following paragraphs: The rental or purchase of a videocassette or DVD does not carry with it the right to show it outside the home (Section 202).

"All other showings of DVDs and videocassettes are illegal unless they have been authorized by license. Even "performances in 'semi-public' places such as clubs, lodges, factories, summer camps and schools are 'public' performances subject to copyright control" (Senate Report No. 94-473, page 60; House Report No. 94-1476, page 64).

Businesses, institutions, organizations, companies or individuals wishing to engage in non-home showings of DVDs and videocassettes must secure licenses to do so--regardless of whether an admission or other fee is charged (Section 501). This legal requirement applies equally to profit-making organizations and nonprofit institutions (Senate Report No. 94-473, page 59; House Report No. 94-1476, page 62).

Showings of DVDs and videocassettes without a license, when one is required, are an infringement of copyright. If done "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain," they are a Federal crime (Section 506). In addition, even innocent or inadvertent infringers are subject to substantial civil damages (ranging from $500 to $20,000 for each illegal showing) and other penalties (Sections 501-505).