Florida homeowners preparing for the winter holiday season who are worried about baking, shopping, cleaning, and decorating probably do not devote a significant amount of attention to holiday-related insurance losses. Unfortunately, the Christmas Vacation style catastrophes experienced by Chevy Chase and the rest of the Griswold family can occur when precautions are not taken to protect your home and home furnishings. In Part I of this blog post, we provided an overview of types of hazards that can cause damage during the holiday season and discussed whether such losses are covered. In Part II, we provide tips for preventing fires, water damage, theft, and other forms of loss associated with the holidays.
Theft can take many forms, which includes stealing gifts from your car or breaking into your residence to steal items. While most homeowners might not think much about the risk of having items in their home or vehicle stolen during the season of giving, Allstate reports that theft claims spike upward by seven percent during the holidays. The best practice to avoid enticing burglars is to locate your Christmas tree and present in a room that does not have a window facing the street. If your tree and gifts must be placed in a room that is highly visible from the street, steps should be taken to prevent the gifts from appearing in plain view, such as keeping the curtains drawn shut. Alternatively, gifts can be hidden until you are actually ready to sit down and unwrap presents.
Homeowners also should be cautious in their use of social media. While it might be exciting to share stories about your shopping adventures on Facebook, status updates that advertise you are away from home can be an invitation to those who would break in and pilfer your property. Similarly, gifts should not be stored in your vehicle, especially the passenger compartment where a broken window is the only barrier that keeps your gifts from becoming the centerpiece of another family’s Christmas.
Avoiding Backed Up Sewer Damage
Families might not associate water damage caused by sewer backups as a holiday based hazard. However, Allstate reports that these types of claims increase by nearly twenty percent during the Christmas season. If you use the garbage disposal to handle potato peels or flush turkey grease down the sink, this type of practice can lead to serious water damage. Plumbing problems of this nature are especially insidious because insurance carriers may claim that they are not covered under a standard homeowners’ insurance policy.
Mitigating the Risk of Liability Claims
Homeowners’ insurance also provides indemnity from liability claims and provides legal representation in defending against such claims. During the holidays, these claims can range from a dog bite after you fail to secure the family dog to a fall caused by the failure to remove debris or standing puddles from a walkway. Homeowners are advised to carefully inspect their property and to take precautions to remove hazards which could endanger holiday visitors and delivery people dropping off packages. Dogs should also be properly leashed, fenced in, and supervised.
Selecting and Maintaining a Christmas Tree to Reduce the Risk of Fire
When selecting a tree, you should look for trees that are vibrant, green, and not shedding pine needles in high volume. Christmas trees also should be located away from heat sources and holiday candles. If a family is retiring for the night, lights on the tree should be unplugged.
If your insurance carrier is refusing to comply with its contractual obligation, you are invited to contact our law firm to speak to an experienced Miami insurance claims attorney. My law firm specializes in representing policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida. Click here to read about some of our case results. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.