6 Holiday mishaps covered by home insurance

The holidays are filled with joyous laughter and cheer, but did you know that the season also comes with increased risk?

Thankfully, if you have the proper home insurance policy, you can minimize the financial misfortune of most of these seasonal disasters.

In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing six common holiday catastrophes and how Acumen’s home insurance can help.

Holiday Theft

Sadly, holidays are not only a time of cheer but also of increased theft.

Nothing is off bounds during the festive season. From the daily packages arriving on your front porch to the perfectly wrapped presents under your tree, holiday thieves will steal it all.

According to an independent survey completed by FedEx, out of 1,500 Canadian online shoppers, one in four were found to have a package stolen.

Burglars will even steal gifts and other items from inside your car. In fact, the holidays are the most common time for vehicles to be stolen as they are often believed to be filled with gifts. According to a report issued by the insurance platform, car theft occurs every 48 minutes in Ontario.

How home insurance can help with holiday theft 

Don’t let the thought of theft dampen your holiday spirit! Protect yourself and your belongings with Acumen’s home insurance. With our comprehensive policy, both your home and its contents are protected, including the packages wrongfully stolen from your front steps.

However, it’s important to note that your policy deductible will apply. Whether your claim is covered depends on the value of the items stolen. If you find that your deductible is higher than the value of the item(s) stolen, it may not be in your best interest financially to make a claim.

Other ways to prevent theft during the festive season

In addition to an inclusive home insurance policy, there are several other ways to reduce your risk of theft over the holidays:

  • Take note of vulnerable entry points, like doors, windows, and locks
  • Consider security alarms, burglar alarms, or motion-sensor exterior lights
  • Keep valuable items out of sight
  • Make sure to lock your vehicle 

Accidents involving guests 

During the holidays you’ll most likely be entertaining all sorts of guests. Friends, colleagues, relatives–you name it! And with this increase in company, comes increased risk.

Among the most notable threats facing our guests is ice. The spots of ice camouflaged by the snow can easily mislead our guests into thinking it’s safe to proceed as normal until a patch of ice jolts them off balance and they’re lying face up on the bitterly cold ground.

Serving alcohol is another threat that skyrockets with increased social gatherings. As homeowners, we are liable for anything that happens on our property. In truth, even if you yourself don’t provide alcohol at your get-together, you can still be held liable for accidents, injuries, and/or mishaps.

How home insurance helps with guest accidents 

Whether you own or rent your home, you can be held liable for bodily injury or property damage unintentionally caused to others.

That’s where Acumen’s home insurance comes in. The personal liability portion of our policies provides coverage in the event that one of your guests suffers an injury or damage is caused to their property.

For example, if Uncle Jim takes a tumble on your snow-covered walkway, you may be held legally responsible. If found to be negligent, your personal liability coverage would cover the damages resulting from the injury up to the coverage limit. 

How to reduce accidents involving guests

  • Remember to properly shovel and salt your driveway, walkway, sidewalk, and porch
  • If you plan to serve alcohol, take steps to limit your liquor liability. For example, hire a bartender, serve food, encourage designated drivers, and take guests’ car keys away from them, if necessary.
  • Be aware of anything that could cause potential injury 

Holiday Fires

Home fires can happen anywhere and at any time. However, according to the Canadian Red Cross, the holiday season sees an influx of fires. This typically results from the increase in fire hazards that occupy our homes over the winter months.

Real Christmas trees, for example, pose a significant risk to homeowners. In typical indoor conditions, evergreens and other needle-bearing trees become dry, bursting into flames with little instigation. Christmas tree fires are also more likely to be serious, with death befalling once every 31 occurrences. Add a few strings of lights, and you’ve created quite the hazard.

But Christmas trees are just part of the problem. As the temperature drops, fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters are pushed to the limit. Combine this with flammable decorations placed dangerously close and you may be trudging into dangerous territory.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than two of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.

Fires or other damage caused by festive outdoor displays is another common danger.

It may seem obvious to use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outside, yet the two continue to be used interchangeably. The same goes for extension cords. While it may be tempting to just use the extension cord you have lying around, it may not be designed for the outdoors and could lead to overheating or worse, fire.

Cords made for the outdoors are built with these hazards in mind. By optimizing tough exteriors made to endure moisture and temperature changes, these resilient cords reduce the risk of electrical shock and fire.

How home insurance helps with holiday fires 

Protect yourself and your home from fire hazards this holiday season and beyond with Acumen’s home insurance policies. Our policies provide coverage that can help you repair the damage and/or replace fire-damaged items as long as it was not intentionally started. Lights and other coveted ornaments are also insured from fire, vandalism, or theft.

Reduce holiday fires

  • Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detector are working properly
  • Close fireplace doors when you’re no longer attending the fire
  • Keep flammable items away from the fireplace
  • If you have a real Christmas tree, water it regularly
  • For outdoor decorations, use light cords that are manufactured for outdoor use. You should also ensure that lights, extensions, and outlets have a sufficient electrical load. We don’t want another Griswold on our hands.
  • Check wires for fraying and electrical shorts
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on standby when cooking
  • Don’t leave grilling, frying, or broiling food unattended
  • When burning candles, keep them away from hazards like decorations and curtains, and never leave them unattended 

Vandalized holiday décor 

You spent hours organizing your front yard to look like a winter wonderland. There are lights dazzling from your trees, brightly lit elves riding in Santa’s sleigh. There are even blue and white snowflakes projected onto your home! It’s a work of art, an expensive piece of art we might add. So, don’t you want to ensure that it’s protected from scrooge-like vandals? 

How home insurance protects you and your home from vandalism 

If someone defaced Frosty the Snowman or damaged your beautiful light display, Acumen Insurance can help! Your outdoor decorations and lights are protected under our home insurance plans up to the limits listed in your policy, just like any other personal property. 

Other ways to prevent vandals from defacing holiday decorations

  • Secure the ornaments
  • Lock cords
  • Install ground ornaments away from the street
  • Take decorations inside if you’re away for an extended period of time
  • Consider installing motion detectors or security cameras 

Online shopping/identity theft 

The holidays bring a high volume of shoppers online, making them prime targets for online scams. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Counterfeit merchandise: counterfeiters effortlessly create websites that mirror legitimate businesses but offer products at a massive discount.
  • Fake charities: the end of the year is a busy season for charities. Fraudsters know this and use the names of legitimate charities to collect money from well-intentioned people.
  • Online shopping: fraudsters will pose as genuine sellers on websites like eBay and Kijiji to post fake ads for items that don’t exist.
  • Phishing emails and texts: receive messages that claim to be from a recognizable source asking you to submit or confirm your personal information.
  • Selling goods and services online: look out for buyers who neglect to pay or attempt to access your personal information. Also, be suspicious of payment offers that are above the asking price and confirm you’ve received legitimate payment before sending the product. 

How Acumen can help protect you from online holiday shopping mishaps

When you apply for home insurance with Acumen, you have the option to add further coverage to your policy, including identity theft protection.

From covering losses resulting from the illegal access of your identity and credit to the unauthorized use of your credit or debit cards, Identity theft insurance covers it all! 

Tips to protect your information during holiday online shopping

  • Shop reliable website
  • Beware of seasonal scams. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Conduct research when considering a new website or online company for your holiday purchases. Reading reviews, verifying the mailing address, and calling the business are some ways you can verify they’re legit
  • Always think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments
  • Protect your passwords
  • Check your credit card and bank statements regularly
  • Treat all Wi-Fi hotspots and public computers as compromised, even if they appear to be safe 

Water damage 

We’ve discussed the increased danger of fire resulting from Christmas lights, and dried-out trees. But what about water damage?

Frozen pipes are a common winter insurance claim. If a house becomes too cold, water in the pipes will freeze and expand. This increases the likelihood the pipes will burst, which can lead to serious water damage.

Shockingly, traditional Christmas trees also come with the risk of causing water damage. If you find that you are continually filling up your Christmas Tree’s pan with fresh water, it may be a sign of a leak. Check the pan for any cracks or holes. Catching the signs early may just save your floors and prevent serious mould damage.

How home insurance can protect you from holiday water damage 

Don’t let water ruin your holidays – or your home. Protect yourself with Acumen Insurance.

We represent several insurers that offer enhanced water protection against damage caused by flooding, eaves, downspouts, drains and sewer backup. If you qualify for this coverage, we will not distinguish between the cause of damage. You have the confidence of knowing you’re covered.

This holiday season, why not protect yourself with our base policy water coverage? It’s one of our most popular policies and offers protection for loss or damage resulting from events like burst water pipes.

How to prevent water damage over the holidays

  • Keep track of how much water your Christmas tree is drinking. If you notice you’re filling up the pan daily, you may have a leak
  • Clean eavestroughs and make sure downspouts are pouring onto soil or a rain barrel
  • Ensure the exterior water line is closed and not dripping
  • If you’re planning to be away for the holidays, keep your heat on and consider asking a neighbour or friend to check to ensure everything is okay. If you’re planning to be gone for a considerable amount of time, consider shutting off your water and draining all the pipes before you depart. 

Bring great coverage home for the holidays 

The holidays are stressful enough as it is. The last thing you need is for one of these common holiday mishaps to derail you financially. Protect yourself this holiday season and beyond with Acumen Insurance. 

Our insurance brokers have access to a variety of home insurance options that will protect your home and its contents against accidental losses arising from fires, natural disasters, or theft.

Our basic home insurance policy will provide you with excellent coverage for building and detached structures, personal property, additional living expenses and legal liability. Don’t see it covered under our initial policy? Not to worry – We also offer additional coverage options like water protection and high-value item policies that you can easily add to your existing policy.

We are proud to offer homeowners industry insights and specialized advise to help you find the coverage you need. We'll spend time helping you understand what type of home insurance coverage you're buying, who or what is covered, exclusions, policy limitations, how much coverage is provided and how to report a loss or claim. To get started or to request insurance quotes, contact us today!