Halloween marks (for some retailers) the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Over the coming days and weeks, stores and businesses – not to mention residential homes – will begin the process of hanging appropriate decorations and “getting into the holiday spirit.” For some families, the holiday spirit includes inviting family, neighbors, and friends over to their homes in order to share in some holiday merriment. Significant preparations often precede these holiday parties regarding decorations, menus, and times. While such decisions are made to ensure everyone invited has a good time, one thing that often escapes the notice or attention of homeowners is their insurance policy.
The Holidays are an Appropriate Time to Review Coverage
A significant number of homeowner’s insurance claim disputes involve an insured filing a claim alleging that a particular act or sequence of events is covered while the insurer rejects this reading of the policy. Because of the increased traffic in and out of homes during the holiday season, homeowners should review their policies and purchase supplemental policies, if necessary, to ensure they are protected in the event of the following:
- Slips and falls can occur on icy or wet sidewalks or where there are obstacles (like children’s toys or presents) covering walkways and walk areas. While most homeowner’s insurance policies cover claims for injuries based on slip and falls, check your policy to see if it covers injuries attributable to obstacles knowingly and/or intentionally placed in or near high-traffic areas. A floor decoration that is in a high traffic area or an outdoor display that infringes on sidewalks and walkways might result in your insurance company attempting to deny a slip and fall claim.
- Dog bites are also common around the holidays. Homeowners must remember that any dog is capable of inflicting a dog bite, and dog bites can be especially debilitating and costly injuries. Not only can a dog’s teeth rip skin and cause puncture wounds and lacerations, dogs’ bites can crush bones or cause permanent disfigurement. If a large dog jumps on a person, knocking him or her down, the person also can suffer joint injuries or traumatic head injuries. Dog bites are often covered by homeowner’s insurance policies, but you should check your policy to make sure. This is especially important if you recently acquired a dog but have not spoken with your insurance company about bringing the dog into your home.
- Fires can occur because of faulty wiring or unattended holiday displays. Old Christmas lights and dried-out evergreen trees are especially vulnerable to accidental, sudden fires. Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage and losses attributable to accidental fires. In addition to making sure such coverage is available, homeowners should carefully consider the decorations they choose to display. Some homeowner’s insurance carriers may deny a claim for fire-related losses if it believes the homeowner acted recklessly in setting out displays or decorations in such a manner that a fire was more likely to occur. In other words, make sure your home is properly equipped and that your electrical outlets are able to handle the load of a large yard display.
A little bit of preparation and an ounce of prevention can prevent you from having to deal with the headache of a homeowner’s insurance claim dispute during the holiday season. Even where you properly prepare, a dispute may still arise. If you are embroiled in such a claims dispute, our Florida insurance claims law firm offers a free consultation, so we can answer policyholders’ questions and represent their interests. The Law Firm 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.