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December 13, 2022

Homeowners Insurance and Holiday Hazards. Are You Protected?



There’s no place like home for the holidays. There’s a good chance you’ve heard that popular holiday tune sung by Perry Como.  It’s a classic.

The season is supposed to be filled with peace and joy.  But this can also be a time of holiday mishaps, which can cause you to feel less than merry. So, as we celebrate the season by decking the halls, here’s an important question to ask yourself:

Is your home properly protected from holiday hazards?

The numbers tell the story. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2014 to 2018, fire departments responded to more than 640 fires caused by Christmas trees.  The loss was significant, totaling more than $10 million in property damage. Another 770 fires during that same period were caused by holiday decorations other than Christmas trees.

It’s safe to say, the holidays can bring more than just Santa and his sleigh.

Homeowners Policies – Knowing the Basics

So the question remains – is your home protected? The answer comes right down to how well you know your homeowners policy.  Let’s start off with some basics.

Dwelling Coverage:  This type of coverage is just one part of your overall homeowners policy, which insures only the physical structure of your home – not its contents.  Attached structures are also covered, such as your garage. Typically, homeowners insurance covers damages caused by fire, lightning, snow, theft and vandalism.

Other Structures Coverage:  This type of coverage is a part of your homeowners policy that helps pay to repair or replace detached structures on your property such as a fence or shed.

Personal Property:  Also known as contents coverage on a homeowners policy, personal property covers the cost of personal items if they are damaged or stolen.  Furniture, clothing, appliances and some electronics are all considered personal property. 

Personal Liability:  This type of coverage may protect you in the event of a lawsuit relating to someone getting injured on your property or damage to your property that results from your negligence.

Medical Payments:  Unlike personal liability insurance, this coverage will help pay for immediate medical expenses of an injured guest, regardless of who is at fault.

Now that we’ve given you some basics on homeowners insurance, you’ll be happy to know that In most cases, a standard homeowners insurance may cover general holiday-related damage.  However, if you plan to purchase pricy gifts or you’re expecting to host a big holiday party, you may want to review your policy with your Partners Insurance agent, just to be sure you understand how you would be covered, in the event of a claim.

Common Holiday-Related Claims

You may be wondering, what are the most common types of holiday-related insurance claims? They include:

Theft

You just bought your daughter a beautiful, but expensive, set of diamond earrings.  Talk about an amazing holiday gift she’ll cherish for years to come. But are you covered if those jewels get lost or stolen? Most homeowners policies cover personal property, but only up to a coverage limit, which is typically $1,500 dollars. You may want to consider protecting those gems by looking into a separate jewelry policy, often called an endorsement or “rider.”  A rider will cover more expensive items not traditionally protected by a standard homeowners policy.  This may include musical instruments, artwork and collectibles.

Injuries and Property Damage

You’ve just planned an amazing party at your home for the holidays. You’ve thought of everything.  Great food, drinks, decorations, and fabulous entertainment.  Holiday gatherings can be filled with fun but can also lead to legal liabilities if someone is injured on your property.  For example, what happens if your dog gets loose and nips a visitor?  What if one of your party guests slips on some spilled eggnog and takes a bad tumble?  Personal liability coverage on a homeowners policy typically starts at about $100,000 dollars, which may cover some holiday mishaps.  But you may want to speak with your Partners Insurance agent, to find out if additional coverage may be right for you.

Fires

Seasonal hazards can unfortunately include fires which may be caused by Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.  Kitchen fires are also a common holiday peril. Be sure to ask your Partners Insurance agent if your dwelling coverage is sufficient to rebuild your home in case of a fire.

Holiday Safety Tips

If you’re concerned about potential risks associated with holiday decorations, here are a few important safety tips to keep in mind:

Holiday Lights
  • Only use holiday lights that are certified by Underwriters Laboratories.  You’ll see their “UL” symbol on their certified products.
  • Always check holiday lights to be sure the cord is not frayed or has exposed wires.  If you notice any issues, throw them away and purchase new lights.
  • Do not overload power strips and be sure your power strip has circuit breakers or surge protection.
  • Turn off your lights when you are not home, or when you go to bed.
  • Never use extension cords designed for indoor use, for outdoor lighting or holiday displays.
Holiday Trees & Decorations
  • Make sure you purchase a fresh Christmas tree, with green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Do not decorate a dry, dead tree or shrubs with lights.
  • Avoid burns and the potential for a fire by using battery operated candles instead of real ones.
  • If you must use a real candle, never place one less than three feet away from flammable materials such as beds, carpeting, curtains, holiday trees, sofas and tablecloths.
  • Do not let candles burn to their base.  Extinguish them when they reach two inches from the holder.
  • Avoid wearing baggy clothing around candles and secure long hair to avoid a potential accident.
Fireplaces
  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends annual chimney cleanings by a licensed specialist, no matter how often you use your fireplace.
  • Clean ashes and debris from your fireplace after each use.
  • Always extinguish a fire before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Do not allow small children or pets within three to four feet of your fireplace, especially when the screen is removed, or glass doors are open.
Pets

We love our pets, but we also need to practice extra care during the holidays to protect our furry friends.  Be sure to use these safety tips:

  • Prevent pets from accessing electrical cords. 
  • Make sure candles are out of reach.
  • Research any holiday plants before bringing them into the home.  Plants such as mistletoe and poinsettias are toxic for some animals.

As you celebrate the holiday season you may want to consider speaking with your Partners Insurance agent to ensure you’re protected from any potential holiday mishaps. 

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