Common holiday accidents and insurance coverage

The holiday season is in full swing. Decorating trees, baking cookies, and wrapping presents are some of the traditions we enjoy. Unfortunately, these fun traditions also come with risks that could cause damage to your home and property and put you and your loved ones in harm’s way. Here are some risks and how your homeowners insurance policy may respond.

Claim Scenario 1

This year, you brought home your first live Christmas tree. While it was beautiful before, it’s even more spectacular with your new LED lights and ornaments. Unfortunately, with a busy work schedule and holiday activities, you forgot to water your tree regularly. Because it’s your first live tree, you didn’t realize how fast it could dry out.

To make matters worse, your pet’s wagging tail knocked over a candle, and the tree caught fire. While the fire was contained quickly, there was some damage to your home. Your new grey leather couch is now charred and black, your 80” TV melted, and your living room walls and roof are damaged. If you submit a claim to your insurance company, will it be covered by your homeowners insurance policy? 

Answer: While it’s best to avoid hazardous situations as much as possible, your homeowners insurance does offer coverage for accidental fire damage. Your dwelling coverage will cover the cost of repairing your roof and other home structures. Damage to your belongings, such as your leather couch and 80” TV, may be replaced under your personal property coverage.

Claim Scenario 2

Earlier this year, you moved into your new home. You’re so happy because you have white woodwork with dark accents. Since this is the first Christmas in your new home, and the weather has been milder than usual, you decide to decorate the outside of your home like the Griswolds. After days of laboring on your ladder, your home is finally decorated. You can’t wait to have people over to see it. 

After a great night singing holiday songs with friends and drinking eggnog, they depart. On the way to his car, one of your friends trips and falls on a string of fallen Christmas lights. The staples used to secure the lights were no match for the strong westerly winds. While he’s up on two feet, he thinks he broke his arm and will swing by the hospital on his way home to have it checked out. Does your homeowners insurance policy provide coverage for his injuries?

Answer: Your homeowners insurance policy provides personal liability coverage if someone is injured on your property.

Claim Scenario 3

This holiday season, you decide to purchase all your gifts online. Each day there’s another new package arriving on your doorstep.

But now the holidays are over, and a new year has arrived. While you’ve been concentrating on your new year’s resolutions, it’s time to review your bank statement. That’s when you notice small miscellaneous charges from around the world have mysteriously appeared on your statement. You contact your local bank, as well as your credit card company, and learn your identity has been stolen. Does your homeowners insurance policy provide coverage for identity theft?

Answer: It depends. While it may not be an automatic coverage, it’s often possible to add identity theft coverage to your policy for an affordable premium. Before you become a victim of identity theft, contact your local independent insurance agent to learn more.

Claim Scenario 4

You’re hosting a party at your new home, and everyone is having a great time. The holiday music is cranked, and your guests are enjoying their specialty drinks. After leaving the party, one of your friends has a car accident and causes significant damage to another vehicle. Does your homeowners insurance policy cover damages caused by your friend and the injuries suffered by a third party?

Answer: Your homeowners insurance policy may provide liquor liability limits; however, those limits may not be enough to cover the damages in today’s litigious society. You may want to talk to your agent about social host liability.

This article is intended for general educational and illustrative purposes only and should not be construed to communicate legal or professional advice.  Further, this article is not an offer to sell insurance.  Please consult with your licensed insurance agent for specific coverage details and your insurance eligibility.  All policies are subject to the terms, conditions, limitations, definitions, and exclusions contained therein.

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