Five Preventable Holiday Insurance Claims
As we prepare for the holidays, homeowners can avoid common mistakes that lead to costly insurance claims. Unlike Halloween pranks that turn into accidents, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve insurance claims are typically initiated by homeowners. It stands to reason that the most common homeowners insurance claims filed during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are for cooking accidents, but there are a few more below that may surprise you.
One of the most important insurance policies available is homeowner's insurance because usually, your house is your biggest asset. Homeowners insurance protects you, your home, and your personal belongings from things like theft, fire, severe weather, and accidents on your property. In the event of an unexpected event, homeowners insurance can help pay for related expenses while also protecting your assets. Depending on your policy, you may be reimbursed for expenses such as a hotel stay if your home is uninhabitable, roof repair, personal property replacement, or drying out services. Dwelling, personal property, and personal liability are all essential components of homeowners insurance.
Many companies will give you a bundle discount if you have auto insurance, life insurance, or motorcycle insurance with them in addition to your homeowner's policy. You will need a rental insurance policy to protect your personal property if you rent a house or apartment, and usually, a similar bundle discount will apply. The rental property owner is responsible for ensuring the home or apartment building you live in has adequate insurance, but their policy will not cover your personal property. Here are five common insurance claims during the holidays and how to prevent an accident before it happens.
Homeowners' insurance protects you financially against fire damage, but avoiding an accident is safer than having to file a claim for something avoidable. Before the holiday season starts, check that your smoke alarms are working, including your Carbon Monoxide detector. Dry, dying, or dead Christmas trees have a high risk of catching fire. Regularly water the base of your tree to keep it from drying out prematurely. Never place a Christmas tree near a fireplace, radiator, heat vents, or lit candles. Keep your menorah a safe distance away from your tree at all times if you're lighting it. Bottom line, when your tree's needles begin to fall, it's time to take down your tree. Also, to prevent your tree from unnecessary tipping over, it's a good idea to check the tree stand on a regular basis to make sure it is secured tightly. Don't forget to turn your Christmas tree lights off each night.
Deep frying turkeys against the manufacturer's instructions can cause the turkey to explode and catch fire, igniting everything in its path. It's important to read and follow the deep fryers instructions each time you use it. Cooktop fires are also common during this holiday season. Setting a cooking timer and checking on food in the oven and stovetop on a regular basis can save you from injury and an insurance claim. Personal property coverage will replace your belongings if they are damaged. Homeowner insurance will repair or rebuild the structure under dwelling coverage if your home is damaged.
Use caution when securing decorations with a ladder, hammer, and nails, or a staple gun. Check that the ladder is stable, and remember, it's okay to ask for help! When securing electrical cords and wires with a staple gun, use caution because improper use can result in electrical accidents. Check the number of holiday light strings that can be safely strung together and stick to the limit. Before plugging in extension cords, make sure they meet or exceed the power supply requirements. To avoid fumbling with matches in the dark during power outages, keep a flashlight and fresh batteries on hand.
A staggering 350 people are injured each year as a result of Christmas tree lights, including falls while they are being erected, children swallowing the bulbs, and electric shocks and burns. Although homeowners' insurance provides personal liability coverage in the event that a visitor is injured on your property, it does not cover you or your family. You need medical insurance to cover injuries to yourself and your household members.
Personal liability coverage is provided by homeowners insurance in the event that someone is injured on your property. Roof decorations that are unstable have been known to fall and injure people. Attaching lights to gutters should be done with caution, as the gutters can collapse if too much weight is applied. Make certain that decorations are properly secured so that they are not blown away or knocked down by strong winds. If you're having guests over for the holidays, make sure the walkways aren't icy, and use salt as needed if there's ice or snow on the ground. During the holidays, the last thing you want to do is to give yourself or your guests food poisoning, which is easy to do with an undercooked or improperly defrosted turkey. To assist with timing, check defrosting and cooking times at least a week before Thanksgiving. Politely ask visitors to stay out of the kitchen or, at the very least, away from the hot ovens and sharp knives.
During the holidays, the stairs become an accident hotspot due to alcohol, tiredness, and excited children. If you have visitors who are unfamiliar with the layout of the house and may fall down the stairs while going to the bathroom at night, keep a light on. Make sure the stairwell is clear of clutter. Children will be running around excitedly looking for visitors and playing with their new toys, so remove any obstacles that could cause a trip or fall down the stairs. Please keep track of your alcohol intake; it's easy to lose track of how many drinks you've had when you're at home or visiting friends.
Avoid shopping on sites you've never heard of or that offer that appear to be too good to be true. Only go to websites you know and trust. If you enter your credit or debit card information on an obscure site selling heavily discounted merchandise, it is possible that the site will be fraudulent and steal your credit or debit card information. Avoid using free public Wi-Fi networks in airports and hotels. Data on unencrypted public Wi-Fi networks, such as log-in credentials for banking sites or credit card numbers, can be easily intercepted by attackers.
To make online purchases, we recommend using a credit card rather than a debit card. Debit cards give users direct access to the bank accounts to which they are linked, and they are not covered by credit card fraud insurance policies. Fraudulent credit card transactions have no effect on your bank account, and many credit card companies waive liability for fraudulent charges. When you use a debit card, the money for the transaction is immediately withdrawn from your account, and you are responsible for reclaiming it. Many homeowners insurance policies include cyber exposure coverage, also known as identity theft coverage. If your homeowner's insurance does not cover cyber exposure, it may be an optional coverage that you can purchase. Package theft on your property is typically covered by personal property insurance.
Unfortunately, having people over for the holidays can result in missing items. Before inviting multiple people into your home, it's always a good idea to hide or lock up valuables. Although the holidays are intended to be a joyful time of celebration, they also provide opportunities for common types of theft. Because people are distracted with holiday preparations, they have new, expensive gifts stored in their homes to give to loved ones.
Many people travel for the holidays, leaving homes and even entire neighborhoods empty, potentially leaving no one around to catch someone breaking into homes. People will often monitor homes during the holidays and take note of houses where the lights do not turn on for several days or where mail and packages pile up outside. Thieves will look on social media to see when families travel for the holidays. Personal property is covered by homeowners insurance against theft. Most homeowners insurance policies, on the other hand, have limits for high-end electronics, fine art, cash, and special jewelry such as wedding rings and family heirlooms. You may wish to obtain additional coverage for those items through an add-on rider or an umbrella policy.
Preparing for a Safe and Healthy New Year
Let AAA Insurance Rickard Agency make sure your home, guests, and gifts are protected this holiday season. If you are concerned about whether you have proper coverage, contact our office to discuss your South Carolina or North Carolina homeowners insurance policy and coverage limits. We can help you with auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, renters insurance, small business insurance, boat insurance, golf cart insurance, motorcycle insurance, rental property insurance and many more important policies to keep your family protected.
If your property is damaged, you can file a claim once you've ensured your safety. We'll ask for specifics about what happened, the extent of the damage, and whether you require immediate assistance. A Claims Representative will assist you in processing your claim and will provide assistance if necessary. You may be required to pay a deductible before your insurance coverage begins, and your policy may have coverage limits, but homeowners insurance will cover everything in between.
Happy Holidays, from Eric and Jennifer Rickard!
AAA Insurance Rickard Agency
Here are Important Tips from the CDC on Driving Safely During the Holiday Season: www.cdc.gov/injury/features/holiday-road-safety