Your Homeowner’s Policy and the Holidays

Posted on: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

They’re coming! The holiday season has just pulled up in front of your home, and all the festivities are unloading at your doorstep. Let the parties, gifts, decorations, and cooking commence! Just one little question, and I hate to sour the eggnog, but are you insured against the possibility that all may not be merry and bright? As a responsible homeowner, you should know if your policy covers you for some of the common mishaps that can mar this otherwise most festive time of the year.

Trees, lights, and decorations

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), hospital emergency rooms annually treat about 12,500 people for injuries such as falls, cuts, and electrical shocks and burns related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. 

  • Standing on a ladder can be perilous any time of the year; but dark, windy, icy conditions, or if you’re in a hurry, can only make it worse. Take proper precautions. 
  • Overloaded electrical outlets cause enormous havoc during the holidays. Take care not to link more than three light strands at a time. 
  • Before you begin stringing, inspect for frayed wires or loose connections that may cause a fire. 
  • Use a properly grounded extension cord. 
  • Also, never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

Celebrations

Social liability laws are especially important this time of year, due to the increase of holiday cheer. If you are acting as the host of a party at your home, you could be liable for any DUI incident which results whether you actually poured the drinks or not. Standard policies typically have a $100,000 limit on liability. You probably will want more coverage if you plan on being a frequent host, because that won’t go far. Is there a medical provision in your policy in case of food poisoning? You don’t have to be the cook to incur liability.

  • Don’t let your guests pour their own drinks. An experienced bartender is a great investment for that big party, because they know when a guest has had too much, and how to handle it.
  • If you have teenagers, invest in a lockable liquor cabinet.
  • Collect car keys when your guests arrive.
  • Serve food, coffee, and soft drinks at all functions.

Theft

Consider the Grinch. Whether it’s the reindeer on your lawn, the gifts under the tree, or the flatscreen in the trunk at the mall, you could be targeted by the mean, green one this season. Homeowner’s insurance will cover these incidents, but you must report any crime to the police, and you’ll need to consider your deductible. The Grinch needs to steal a lot of goodies to exceed most deductibles. 

Fire

You undoubtedly carry insurance against fires, but the greatest insurance is prevention.

  • Candle usage is at its peak during the holiday season, and so is fire from unattended or improperly placed candles. Maintain a distance of twelve inches between a flame and anything flammable. Never put candles on your tree. 
  • Once the holidays are over, or as soon as the tree shows signs of drying out, remove the tree from your home. A dry tree is a serious fire hazard.
  • Follow all recommended precautions when using a turkey fryer. 
  • Keep your oven clean. Oven fires frequently ruin holiday plans. If you only clean it annually, now is the perfect time.

These few tips and suggestions can’t ensure a perfect holiday, but following them will give you greater piece of mind. What you do with the neighbor’s regift of an ugly sweater is up to you.

Got questions about your insurance? Core Benefits Group has answers. Please call us at 1-877-214-2969.

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