Memorial Day Safety and Insurance Guide 2023

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As the first holiday of summer, some people call Memorial Day the opening of Trauma Season. As dramatic as that sounds, according to Pew Research, 41,900 people landed in the ER on average between the years 2000 and 2018, mostly from fireworks as well as car and boating accidents.[3] Summer opens people up to all sorts of injuries because people are outdoors, often taking part in drinking and dangerous forms of fun, like ATVing.

Memorial Day may mean a flight out of town, a road trip or a picnic. Maybe you plan to throw a barbecue in your backyard and invite family and friends. Some people gather at the pool or the beach since it’s unofficially the first day of summer. Whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s important to remember two things: safety and insurance, because oftentimes the two go hand-in-hand. If you’re entertaining at home you’ll need the right homeowners or renters insurance.

You’ll need adequate car insurance in case you’re involved in an accident, regardless of what you do on Memorial Day.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated last year that there would be 450 deaths on the roads across the country.[1] There’s no reason to think that this year is any different. In fact, the NSC says that Memorial Day and other summertime holidays (Independence Day and Labor Day) have the highest average fatality rates per day.[2]

This Memorial Day, you not only have to safeguard your own safety, but that of others, in case you’re found liable for accidents and injuries. Keep reading for safety tips and all things insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • You are much more likely to have a car accident on Memorial Day Weekend than any other day in May.
  • Drunk driving is the number one cause of accidents on Memorial Day Weekend.
  • Accidents in the home are more likely to happen due to grilling, alcohol consumption and guests in the home.
  • It’s important to have the right auto and home insurance coverages, especially on this weekend holiday.

Memorial Day Motor-Vehicle Fatalities

Year Memorial Day Fatalities Total Fatalities in May
2021 415* 3,768*
2020 397 3,346
2019 452 3,417
2018 430 3,443
2017 345 3,416
2016 3,481 392
2015 3,339 370

*2021 data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
All other data is sourced from the National Safety Council (NSC)

It’s important to remember two things: safety and insurance, because oftentimes the two go hand-in-hand.

What this table shows us is that historically, about the 10-14% of fatal car accidents that happen in the month of May happen on Memorial Day. It’s important to have the right coverage in place, in case you are involved in a car accident.

Since the COVID pandemic, car accidents are on the rise, presumably from rusty driving. A long-distance trip may be new to you, so it’s important to take driving precautions if you haven’t been on the open road in a couple of years.

Here are the coverages you will need if you’re in an accident. See how they apply if you are at fault and if you are not.

Insurance Coverages for Accidents

What It Covers

Is It Required?

Liability Insurance

Pays for damages, injuries and fatalities of other driver(s) when you are at fault.


Personal Injury Protection

Pays for your own damages and injuries.

In some states

Collision Coverage

Pays to fix your car if you were at fault.


Medical Payments Coverage

Pays for the cost of medical payments regardless of who is at fault for the accident.


Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Pays for damages and injuries if the other driver is at fault and is uninsured.


Roadside Assistance

Helps get your car back on the road or will give you a tow to the nearest mechanic.


Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

Will help cover the cost of mechanical repairs if your car breaks down


What Are the 10 Most Common Disasters on Memorial Day?

  1. Boating accidents
  2. Drunk-driving accidents
  3. Vehicular accidents other than DUI
  4. Burns from fireworks
  5. Burns from campfires
  6. Auto/pedestrian accidents
  7. Auto/bicyclist accidents
  8. Unattended children falling out of windows
  9. Tractor Trailer Accidents
  10. Motorcycle Accidents

Top 5 Causes of Fatal Car Accidents on Memorial Day

  1. Drunk driving/impaired driving
  2. More people on the road
  3. Sleep deprivation from a long drive
  4. Distracted driving
  5. Not wearing a seatbelt

Memorial Day and other summer holidays have the highest average fatality rates per day.

17 DUI, Driving Safety and Car Insurance Tips

  1. Don’t drink and drive. There are more car accidents on Memorial Day for many reasons, but drunk driving is the number reason behind Memorial Day Weekend car accidents.
  2. Being distracted by friends is also a danger when you’re behind the wheel.
  3. Make sure your car is in good condition so it doesn’t break down while you’re driving.
  4. Use Uber or Lyft or any rideshare service to avoid a DUI or a DUI-related accident.
  5. Designate a sober driver if you don’t want to spend money on rideshare service.
  6. Don’t drive distracted. Put away the phone, and keep your eyes and focus on the road.
  7. Drive at the speed limit. Even if you haven’t been drinking, other drivers have, so play it safe.
  8. Wear seatbelts, which are 45% effective in preventing fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants.[1]
  9. Don’t drive if you’re tired.
  10. Make sure you have your registration and insurance cards on you in case you’re pulled over at a traffic stop.
  11. Make sure you have adequate car insurance coverage.
  12. Drive cautiously in and around work zones.
  13. If you’re driving a long distance, make frequent stops to rest your eyes and get adequate sleep. Avoid driving “through the night.” There will be many accident-prone drivers on the road.
  14. Keep your gas tank full, and don’t wait until it’s in the red to fill up. Same goes for adequately charging an EV along the way.
  15. Keep adequate (or extra) distance between your car and the car in front of you.
  16. Make sure your headlights work and that your windows are clean enough for full visibility.
  17. Let others know your itinerary and the routes you are taking to get to your destination. Check in regularly with this person.

BBQ, House Party Safety and Homeowners Insurance Tips

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are around 6,500 grilling fires each Memorial Day Weekend. The report finds that 29% of these fires occur on courts, terraces and patios of homes, while 21 percent start with grills that are placed on exterior balconies or porches.

You are covered by homeowners insurance if you have a fire or accident, but here are some tips on avoiding mishaps.

8 Grilling Safety Tips

  1. Make sure the grill works properly before using it.
  2. Make sure you know how to use the grill properly. Follow directions carefully if it’s a new grill.
  3. Do not leave the grill unattended.
  4. Never grill indoors or in enclosed areas, like an enclosed balcony.
  5. Keep adults, children and pets away from the grill.
  6. Keep the grill away from the home, the deck, branches or anything that can catch fire.
  7. Use grilling utensils, which are long enough to protect the grill master.
  8. Do not use lighter fluid on charcoals that have already ignited. You’ll get a dangerous blaze!

Attractive Nuisances

If you’re the one with the pool and trampoline, everyone wants you to host the party. But insurance companies call these fun items attractive nuisances because they open up policyholders to liability for accidents and injuries.

Not only should you be vigilant of accidents with family members and guests, but you could even be liable for injuries if children break in and get hurt using a pool or trampoline.

Here are four tips on protecting yourself and your guest if you have a pool or trampoline.

  1. Make sure people going in the pool know how to swim
  2. Constant adult supervision is a must with children using the pool or trampoline.
  3. Fence your pool on all four sides and use a self-closing gate.
  4. Fence your trampoline on all four sides.

Are Drunk Guests Your Responsibility?

What if someone leaves your party drunk and gets pulled over by the police, who later determine that they were above the legal blood-alcohol level? Were you, the host of a party where you served alcohol in your home, responsible for the offense?

On account of what’s called “social host liability,” if you are serving alcohol in a non-commercial setting with certain licenses, you can be held liable if a guest gets drunk and injures someone. This is where homeowners insurance comes in. If you are sued, homeowners insurance would cover the legal bills.

However, your best bet – and the best way to avoid a rate hike – is to make sure that your guests do not drink and drive.

Roughly 10-14% of the fatal car accidents that happen in May happen on Memorial Day.

Underage Drinking in Homes on Memorial Day Weekend

According to Drug Abuse Warning Network, emergency room visits for injuries related to underage drinking increase by 11% on Memorial Day weekend. The study, based on statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), found that people under age 21 who used both alcohol and illegal drugs together were 27% more likely to land in the emergency room on the holiday weekend compared with any other time. That is 199 emergency room visits per day during the three-day weekend!

Fireworks on Memorial Day

Even though there are more fireworks-related injuries and house fires on the fourth of July than any other day of the year, Memorial Day Weekend is close behind. If someone is injured in your home after setting off fireworks, you may be held liable for injuries. The good news is that homeowners insurance liability protection may cover the cost.

If you live in a state where fireworks are illegal, you will receive no coverage.

Injured Guests

If a guest trips and falls, breaks a leg or sprains an ankle, they may need medical attention. If you have homeowners insurance, you’re covered for the medical bill and any lawsuit that may arise from the incident.

2 Road Trip Safety and Car Insurance Tips To Remember

  1. Consider increasing your coverage limits and add on coverages you may need to make up for the higher chance of having a car accident.
  2. Travel with an emergency or disaster kit in case your car breaks down and you’re far from civilization.
  1. If your health insurance is not valid in the destination of your choice or even during a long drive there, consider buying travel health insurance because there are no short-term insurance plans. If you have Medicare, you can seek medical attention anywhere in the U.S.
  2. If renting a car, know that your auto insurance will provide the same coverage you have for your personal vehicle for the rental car. If you have collision coverage, you do not need to buy a collision waiver. You are also covered by some credit card companies, so check with an agent representing the card you’re using for the rental.
  3. Have neighbors collect your mail and check on your home while you’re away. Make it appear as if you are home, by using automatic smart lights. Hopefully, you have a home security system, which earns you discounts on home insurance. Preventing a break-in is less costly than being the victim of one. Your homeowners insurance rates will increase if you file a claim for theft!

4 Summer Sun Safety Tips

  1. If you spend time in the sun, use a sunscreen with a high SPF. Make sure to reapply as necessary, especially after swimming or sweating while grilling.
  2. Stay hydrated with water, especially if you’re drinking alcohol, and keep cool to prevent heat stroke.
  3. Protect your eyes by wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  4. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing for added protection during the strongest rays around noon.

Memorial Day Safety FAQs

What’s the number one accident on Memorial Day Weekend?

Car accidents are the most likely cause of death during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Boating accidents are very common too.

Are drowning accidents covered by homeowners insurance?

Because drowning is accidental, yes it is often covered by homeowners insurance unless it’s excluded in the home insurance policy.

Does homeowners insurance cover injuries if a household member is hurt during a barbecue?

No, household members are never covered by homeowners insurance liability, only guests. You can also buy medical payments coverage for small injury bills ($5,000 or less), however, that too will not cover household members.

It’s important to be extremely careful during Memorial Day Weekend, whether you are traveling or entertaining at home. It’s also important to make sure you have the right insurance coverages in case the worst happens. To save money on insurance bills, compare insurance rates and see which insurer will offer you the best rates.


  1. Memorial Day. National Safety Council (NSC). Accessed 5/10/2023.
  2. Holiday Traffic Fatality Estimates. National Safety Council (NSC) Memorial Day. Accessed 5/11/2023.
  3. Hospital emergency rooms see boom in patients around the Fourth of July. Pew Research. Accessed 5/15/2023.

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