It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Until It Isn’t
It happens every year…literally, EVERY year. I turn on the TV to watch a little news, and one of the headlining stories is a home fire. The culprit? Holiday lights. Another headlining story? Thieves steal presents from right under a family’s nose. And yet another? There’s a car accident with injuries caused by an intoxicated driver.
The holiday season is most definitely upon us, and some may say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Houses are decorated, presents are wrapped, and the spirit of giving is in the air. But around every corner lingers a Grinch in some form or fashion looking to spoil the holiday fun.
In the spirit of giving, I wanted to share some helpful tips to make sure your holiday season is the best it can be and to hopefully help you avoid insurance headaches.
- Turn off the tree lights before you go to bed — Would you believe fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 230 home structure fires that began with those beautifully decorated and lit-up trees each year? It’s true. Those same fires cause an estimated $18.3 million in direct property damage annually. The simple flip of a switch or unplug of a cord could save you a lot of money and heartache, and a lot of time spent in the claims process. One other quick fire note, never leave a candle unattended or burning overnight. You may be saying, “Duh, Joe…everyone knows that.” But the key here is that while that advice seems like common sense, in the hustle and bustle of the season, “common sense items” sometimes get forgotten in the chaos.
- Protect your identity, both online and in stores — Ready to buy that perfect gift? Before you head out to the stores, think about how much information a thief would get his hands on if your wallet or purse was stolen. Avoid carrying Social Security cards, birth certificates, or passports unless absolutely necessary. If you’d rather shop online, be sure to only use secure websites and don’t forget to log off from sites after you’ve completed your purchases. It’s always a wise idea to monitor your bank accounts and credit card activity regularly throughout the holidays.
- Protect your delivered packages — All right, so you went the online route to buy a gift or two this year. It’s a popular way to shop, and guess what? Thieves know it! You know those packages that are left on your doorway while you’re gone for the day? Yeah, those same packages are thief magnets. So what can you do to prevent package theft? A few ideas you may want to consider are keeping a camera pointed at your front step, leaving delivery instructions for the currier, having the packages delivered to you at work, picking your packages up at a local post office, or trying Amazon Locker.
- Hosting a holiday party — This time of year is notorious for parties…and not just any parties, but holiday parties with alcohol. If you’re planning on hosting one of these, make sure your bases are covered with respect to liability issues. Designate a bartender, monitor signs of intoxication with guests, keep the phone number of the local cab company handy, and reserve your right to stop serving guests who appear intoxicated. Remember, if a guest is hurt (or hurts someone else), the liability will fall on you.
- Attending a holiday party — Much like I just mentioned, holiday parties are a fun time, but you should always make sure you’ve thought ahead if you plan on drinking alcohol. Simply designating a sober driver or having Uber on speed dial is worth it. Rightly so, police tend to crackdown around the holidays.
- Travel safely — I can never stress this enough, take extra caution when out on the roads! The holiday season brings a number of unique driving risks. During this time of year, we have difficult weather conditions, limited daylight hours, and drivers in unfamiliar areas. By planning extra travel time and eliminating distractions, you can help ensure you get to your destination safely.
And lastly, as the year ends, it’s always a good idea to check your insurance policies to make sure everything that’s important to you is covered. If you have any questions about this, I’d be happy to help. You can either comment below or reach out to me directly!
Like the title of the blog says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year — until it isn’t.” Plan ahead and be careful. No one wants to spend the holidays on the phone talking about insurance claims!
Published on: 12.15.16