This article has been updated from a previous version.
What is often called “the most wonderful time of the year” can be filled with stress and potential safety threats to your home if left unattended. The good news is that these risks can be avoided by following the right holiday safety tips, and having the proper home insurance coverage.
Though many other holidays are celebrated this time of year, let’s focus on some potential hazards surrounding the Christmas season that can be reduced with a little preparation and thoughtfulness.
Christmas holiday safety tips
Because Christmas is all about family time, you may find your home busier than usual. With that can come different insurance claims specific to the holiday season that you may not have considered during the rest of the year. For example, gifts lying around the house could lead to a greater risk of theft claims. Fortunately, if personal property worth more than your deductible is taken, your insurance may cover the difference.
However, let’s say you’ve been given or purchased very expensive jewelry or electronics. It’s important to consider what that means for holiday household insurance claims. Basic personal property insurance may not cover those items and so it’s important to purchase a separate policy or rider on top of your existing policy.
As you approach the holiday season, home insurance becomes even more important when avoiding liabilities like injury or property damage. Yes, parties are fun, but holiday cheer can get out of hand. Your personal liability may typically cover about $100,000, which hopefully does the trick. However, it’s worth considering topping up this amount to protect yourself from a potentially costly lawsuit.
Christmas tree safety tips
If your Christmas tree catches fire, will your home insurance cover you?
Generally, basic home insurance will cover Christmas tree fires. However, there are nuances to keep track of. For instance, most condo buildings do not allow tenants to have live trees and if you plan on buying an artificial tree, it’s important to ensure it is made of flame-retardant materials and is CSA-approved.
To avoid an insurance mishap with your Christmas tree, take the following steps when buying a live tree if your property allows for it:
Buy a fresh tree.
Place the tree at least three feet away from heat sources or open flames.
Do not place the tree in a space that blocks an exit or creates a trip hazard.
Refill the tree stand’s water reservoir every day.
Never decorate a tree with lit candles.
Discard the tree after it becomes dry and its needles start to fall on the floor.
Some insurance companies offer shorter-term general liability insurance that is useful for holiday season festivities. When installing lights, many businesses can purchase insurance for Christmas light installation.
In the case of homeowners, it’s best to use professional lighting installation services that are insured (and not all of them are). Request to see their certificate of insurance and verify that it has not expired. If you fail to get that, and something goes wrong, you could be liable for any unforeseen injuries.
Home insurance tips for Christmas lights
Some helpful hints when using a service or installing Christmas lights yourself include:
Inspect all the plugs and cords for damage.
Be sure to use indoor lights for inside your home and outdoor lights outside your home.
Use a surge protector to prevent a power overload.
Check your electrical system by inspecting your home’s outdoor outlets and plugs.
Never connect more lights together than the recommended number of light strings.
Safety tips for holiday travel
With border measures lifted for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated Canadians, many will be travelling abroad this holiday season. It’s a good idea to review your home insurance policy before you’re away on holiday.
Make sure someone can come around to check on your home, give it a lived-in look, collect your mail, and maybe even shovel your driveway. If you’re going on holiday, your home insurance policy might require — at the very least — a check-in if you are gone for more than five days.
Be sensible, stay safe, and enjoy the holidays. Your family and insurance company will thank you. For more information on holiday safety tips and Christmas insurance claims, speak to your insurance agent or broker.
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About the author
Joel Kranc is an award-winning writer, author and journalist. Most of his experience lies within the institutional investment and financial services space. He also covers a variety of business topics for publications in North America and the UK.