How Can I Protect My Home During the Holidays?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2013 and 2017, fire departments responded each year to an average of 160 fires caused by Christmas trees resulting in around $10 million in property damage. During the same period, fire departments across the country also responded to nearly 800 fires per year caused by holiday decorations other than trees.
But tree and decoration fires don’t account for all holiday tragedies. Cooking fires increase during the holidays as do traffic accidents and fireworks-related injuries. And the current COVID-19 pandemic adds another level of safety concerns this holiday season.
Relax and enjoy this holiday season by understanding your homeowners insurance coverage and learning some simple tips to protect your family and home from holiday-related dangers.
What types of holiday incidents are covered under home insurance?
Your current home insurance policy may already cover many potential holiday mishaps. Most standard homeowners policies include:
- Dwelling coverage: This protects your home’s primary living space and attached structures, such as garages and carports. Typically, home policies cover damages caused by explosions, fire, lightning, sleet or snow, theft and vandalism.
- Personal property: This covers your home’s contents, including appliances, clothing, electronics and furniture.
- Personal liability: A coverage that applies to incidents in which the homeowner is at fault for injuries or property damage, including bodily injuries or property damage sustained by someone outside your household while on your property or damages or injuries caused by your child or pet.
- Additional living expenses: This coverage helps pay your living expenses if a covered calamity such as a fire requires you to temporarily move to another house or apartment.
- Medical payments: Unlike personal liability insurance, this coverage pays the immediate medical expenses of an injured guest, regardless of who is at fault.
Common holiday-related claims
In most cases, your standard homeowners policy will cover holiday-related mishaps. If you plan to purchase expensive gifts or entertain guests, you might want to review your homeowners coverage to understand how you would be covered in the event of a claim. Common types of holiday-related claims include:
- Theft: If thieves steal property worth more than your deductible, your personal property insurance should cover the loss. However, personal property insurance may not provide adequate coverage for expensive items. For example, if you plan to give your wife an expensive diamond necklace this holiday season, you might want to purchase a separate jewelry policy.
- Injuries and property damage: Fun-filled gatherings make the holidays enjoyable, but they can also lead to events that leave you legally liable for injuries or property damage. A rowdy reveler could take a tumble down your stairs, an errant bottle rocket could set your neighbor’s yard ablaze or your feisty French bulldog could attack a caroler. Personal liability coverage typically starts around $100,000, which can cover many holiday mishaps, but if you plan to install elaborate decorations or throw holiday parties, talk to your insurance agent to find out if you have enough liability insurance.
- Fires: House fires are one of the most common holiday calamities, so you want to make sure your dwelling coverage is sufficient enough to rebuild your home.
- Credit card theft: Most standard homeowners policies include around $500 in coverage to pay for items purchased with a stolen credit card.
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Purchasing enough insurance may set your mind at ease, but taking certain precautions can help prevent disasters and holiday related claims. Be vigilant when cooking, make sure you use the appropriate indoor and outdoor lighting for your decorations, never leave candles unattended, use proper care and disposal of live Christmas trees and implement safety protocol when using the fireplace.
Following a few simple steps can help insure you have a safe and happy holiday season.