With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and let your guard down. There are plenty of holiday risks that you might not anticipate. We’ve created a list of tips to help you have a fun and safe holiday season by protecting the ones you love and your property from unforeseen Christmas insurance circumstances.
1) O’ Christmas Tree, O’ Christmas Tree, how dried out are your branches?
If your holiday decorating includes a real Christmas tree, you’ll need to take a few precautions. One of the leading causes of house fires during December is Christmas tree fires. It’s important to keep your tree watered every day, or else the branches will dry out quickly. One spark from a nearby candle or fireplace could result in disaster. We recommend making sure your tree always has enough water to cover the base of the trunk and keep it away from an open flame.
For a great alternative, there are plenty of realistic-looking artificial trees that come in many different styles and colors.
2) Power problems with those extension cords Mr. Griswold?
Holiday lights are very beautiful and can be a lot of fun to set up an intricate light display, or simply hang icicle lights around the house. Yet, the more extension cords you use, the higher the risk of an electrical surge or fire at your house.
First, ensure all your outside extension cords are rated for outdoor use. Then, check all the strands of lights for missing bulbs or exposed wires before installing.
3) Snow should be falling, not your guests.
Slippery surfaces such as your front porch or walkway can turn into a skating rink without proper care. You don’t want anyone visiting your home, whether it’s grandma or the Amazon delivery guy, slipping and falling. If that happens, it’s YOUR liability insurance that covers their injury. Always sand or salt your porch and walkway when there is snow and ice about.
4) Up on the rooftop, snow won’t pause.
If you park your car outside for work or at home, it’s always important to clear off all the snow from the roof of your vehicle before you drive. This snow is very dangerous because it could fly into the face of the vehicles driving behind you, reducing their visibility, or it could slide forward while you drive, leaving you abruptly blind.
5) Don’t Nog and Drive.
Although a very simple rule, ALWAYS plan for a safe ride home if you plan on drinking this holiday. We see a surge in collisions this time of year; snow and ice on the roads plus drinking and driving is a deadly combination. Never get in the driver’s seat unless you are 100% sober and ask a friend or family member to take your home after the festivities are over.
6) Have yourself a little extra travel time.
With everyone rushing around Christmas shopping and slippery roads, accidents are more likely to happen during the holiday season. We know there is a lot to get done, but it’s important to be careful and slow down. Give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes of travel time when heading to your destination. That way, you’ll have plenty of time for safe and slow driving.
7) You’ll Be Home for Christmas if your car is prepared.
The weather can change from pleasant to miserable in a short amount of time. Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle has been prepped for winter conditions. Pack a roadside emergency kit that includes: a blanket, water, non-perishable food, jumper cables, salt or kitty litter, and flares. Always have an external or portable battery charger for your phone in case you are stuck for a long period of time. Check your tire pressure or switch to all-weather winter tires.
8) Avoid a “Home Alone” situation.
If you’re planning on leaving the cold and snow this winter, it’s wise to prepare your home and property before you leave. There is an increase in criminal activity during the holidays, and an empty house is a perfect target. Don’t broadcast your travel plans on social media until you have returned from your trip to not alert potential thieves that your home is empty.
Schedule a family member or trusted friend to house-sit and put a few lights on a timer to make it look like someone is at home. For peace of mind, consider investing in a security camera that you can check remotely.
9) Don’t let a Grinch steal your Christmas
With packages arriving in the mail, it’s important to keep a sharp eye out for package porch pirates. If you know a package is on the way, track it closely and anticipate its arrival. Invest in a front door camera and create a ‘package box’ for your porch to better hide lone packages sitting on the porch step out in the open.
If out shopping, cover up any unattended gifts in the car or leave them in the trunk. A potential thief might see the bags and gifts in your car and are more likely to break in to retrieve them.
10) It’s beginning to look a lot like Phish-mas.
It’s so easy now to be able to purchase the perfect Christmas gift online from the comfort of your home, but there are plenty of dangers and scams out there. There are many illegitimate websites and phishing emails that surge during the Christmas season. Be cautious of suspicious emails, and make sure any website you order from is one you trust. There is a lot of your personal information at risk, especially when shopping online with a credit card.
11) Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold. Ensure you insure all your silver and gold.
If you’re planning to buy any jewelry this season, you’ll need to consider extra insurance. Remember, even if those earrings or necklace or watch is a gift for someone else, it falls under YOUR personal property coverage until it is in their hands. That means if it is stolen before Christmas, your insurance policy covers it. To be sure, call your Hertvik Insurance agent and we’ll review your home insurance policy to make sure your gifts are covered.
If the gift is an engagement ring, we’d be happy to get it scheduled. Scheduling these items ensures they are covered if lost or damaged outside the home.
12) Jingle bells, pets are swell, but make sure they’re okay.
Pets and kids are a lot alike – they love the Christmas season. All the people, sights, smells, and excitement of the holidays can push any well-behaved pet into acting a little outlandish. An animal can get tangled up in string lights if it’s agitated or bored. Or, it could pull down your tree and start a fire. Make sure everyone has a relaxed Christmas and be sure to give your pet(s) a calm space to enjoy along with you.
Give your friends and family a safe and happy holiday season and keep these tips in mind! Give us a call if you are ever unsure of what your insurance covers, or what to do to avoid insurance risks.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Hertvik Insurance Group!