Risk seasons and insurance tips
It's the most wonderful time of the year! And after the year we've had, I think it's safe to say we can all spend some holidays. At Encharter Insurance it's about protecting you, so we've gathered our best holiday tips to help you and your family stay safe, manage seasonal risk and hopefully relieve some of your stress this holiday season.
Your celebrations may look a little different this year, but if you are planning to decorate or host during the holidays, you want to read on to learn more about how your home is safe and how insurance can help you manage the risks of the season  Holiday Season Home Risks and Tips
The point is that Christmas trees are wonderful … as long as you do not neglect them! According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2013-2017, US fire brigades responded to an average of 160 home fires starting with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries and $ 10 million in direct property damage annually.
Dried trees can ignite very quickly and are a leading cause of tree-related home fires. A real tree must be handled with care to prevent the risk of fire in your home. To keep your tree healthy, follow these tips:
- Cut your thumb off the bottom of the tree when you get home to let the tree take in water.
- Be sure to place the tree in a base that allows good water.
- Keep your tree watered continuously.
- For both real and artificial trees, it is important to check your Christmas lights to make sure they all work properly.
- Keep the tree at least three meters away from heat or ignition sources.
According to the NFPA, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires and in 25% of home tree fires, some type of heat source, e.g. as a candle or equipment, be too close to the tree. Your homeowners insurance is no substitute for taking care of your tree and being fire-smart, but it is something that can help protect you when the unexpected happens. Call your agent to make sure your policy is up to date and that your boundaries accurately reflect your current situation, in any case.
This year will definitely be a popular one for online shopping, but this can open you up to risk if you are not careful. When shopping online, check if you are shopping from reputable websites and be careful when opening emails from retailers that you may not recognize or emails that look suspicious. They can be a phishing scam.
For additional protection when shopping online, ask your insurance agent to add identity theft protection to your homeowner. This can often be added through your home or tenants' coverage at a low cost, but there are also stand-alone plans.
Great / Expensive Gifts
If you have been good this year and you are lucky enough to be expecting a great, expensive gift, do not forget to make sure it is covered by your homeowner or tenant insurance. Items such as jewelry or art or antiques may have special restrictions according to your policy, which means that they may not be covered completely or even covered at all. If you get something big, call your insurance agent ASAP so you have coverage before anything happens!
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No matter which way you choose to decorate your home, it is important that you do not create a security risk! Lights and lamps look good, but can act as a fire hazard if you are not careful. To avoid accidents on holiday, it is a good idea to update your insurance. With homeowners insurance, you can prepare for how you will recover from a worst case. A typical insurance policy covers the physical structure of your home, liability, personal belongings, compensation costs and additional living expenses. Your beautifully decorated home deserves the right coverage this season!
Expensive gifts and long vacations are two important ingredients of the holiday. On that note, it is no secret that home burglaries are common around this time of year. To keep your home protected from crime, it is important to remember a few things, such as increasing security features, hiding expensive gifts, and returning to your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure you have adequate protection.
When you look at your homeowner's insurance, your insurance should be able to cover loss of property and damages caused by a burglar. Follow these tips to prevent loss from theft:
- Always close your garage, lock the doors and even windows.
- Have a friend or family member check your home every day if you are traveling this season.  Keep the lights on outdoors, even when you are not at home. Making it look like you are around will keep burglars away.
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The gatherings this year will be fewer and longer between and certainly smaller than in previous years. No matter how small your celebration may be, if you welcome guests to your home, you also welcome increased risk.
Chances are good that your party will involve lots of delicious food. If you are the one who cooks and you serve food and everyone gets food poisoning, you may be in trouble. If food poisoning were to require medical attention, fortunately for you it would probably be covered by the medical payment on your home insurance. Keep in mind when preparing food to keep it at appropriate temperatures, double check to make sure everything is cooked properly and make sure it has not expired.
If you have a dog, it may be best to keep it away. from guests during your holiday party. Whether it's getting a dog sitter or keeping your hairy friend in a kennel, you are really doing a favor for you and the dog. Even the best behaving dog can get a little nervous around the crowds. This nervousness can then quite easily turn into accidents. Again, this would probably be covered by your medical or liability insurance on your home insurance.
It's not just the joy in your house that you need to worry about. Damage to any part of your property can lead to risk for you. For example, when there is snow or ice on your walkway or steps, there is a high risk of guests slipping and falling. If this happened, and you were sued, the same liability and medical payments on your home insurance would cover you. To avoid winter slips and falls, here are some things to do before you host:
- Use rock salt
- Keep aisles shoveled
- Lots of lighting (motion sensor lights, solar powered walkways)
- Keep icicles cleaned above the door  Escort the elderly to their cars
If you serve alcoholic beverages in your home, you may be held responsible for an accident in which your guests are involved in drunkenness. Therefore, be willing to call a cab for your guests or offer to drive them home and let them pick up the car the next day and be sure to offer non-alcoholic beverages for the guests who will be driving later.
You may also want to buy a higher liability insurance limit on your homeowners insurance or buy a personal umbrella insurance to provide your even higher insurance limits. Your home insurance (or tenant insurance / co-operative insurance) can cover you for worthy alcohol liability – liability from serving alcohol in your home to your guests. This depends on the carrier and the coverage form they use. If you have the coverage, it applies as long as you do not charge for the alcohol you serve.
There are a couple of situations where your home is more susceptible to fires during a holiday vacation. The first may be if you are cooking. I can not speak for everyone, but when I'm in the kitchen there's an increased risk of accidents. To avoid this, try not to leave food unattended, keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure all your smoke detectors work.
From all of us at Encharter, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season and we hope these tips will help you if you get in the spirit this year!
Call us today at 413.475.7283 to discuss your holiday security questions!
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