November 17, 2015 by Canadian Underwriter
Visions of sugar-plums – not thoughts of how best to protect property – seem to be dancing in the heads of more than a third of polled homeowners in the United States as the festive season approaches, suggests a new survey from Allstate.
Released Tuesday, the third annual Allstate Holiday Home Hazards poll reveals a good chunk of respondents do not prioritize protecting their property during the hectic holiday season, with fewer than four in 10 taking extra care. Conducted in Oct. by FTI Consulting, Inc., the survey reflects input from 1,001 adults, 18 or older, via an online survey using a sample reflective of the U.S. population.
Risky behaviour abounds, the company reports, including leaving packages in the open; leaving doors unlocked; falling asleep with the stove on, a candle lit or a fire burning; or failing to heed safety warnings while decorating.
Despite 71% of those polled acknowledging the increased risk of in-home incidents, notes an Allstate statement, just 37% take extra care to protect themselves. And all this results in a distinct spike in many property claims.
“Allstate claims data shows many types of fire, theft and weather property claims increase during the holiday season,” the company reports.
Among the largest increases in claims filed during the holidays – and the most expensive claims – are those for fire and decoration-related holiday home hazards. For example, survey results show the following:
Overall – for homeowners, condo owners and renters – claims related to fires originating from the fireplace increased 196% during the holidays, claims from burning candles causing a fire rose 63%, claims from electrical fires went up 21% and claims for smoke from the fireplace increased 191%.
The median cost of claim – the amount Allstate paid on reported claims, based on claims data during the holiday season versus non-holiday season from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15, 2012-2015 – for the three groups were as follows:
Among other things, Allstate recommends having chimneys inspected and cleaned annually before the holidays begin, and checking holiday lights, throwing away any that are broken and not overloading outlets.
By December, 75% of respondents have started checking off their shopping lists. “Shopping season is in full swing, and it’s easy to let holiday cheer cloud our better judgment when buying and handling our purchases,” Terri Dalenta, senior vice president of property products at Allstate, says in the company statement.
Consider that many respondents do not take necessary precautions to keep holiday purchases out of harm’s way. Survey responses indicate the following:
For homeowners, condo owners and renters, burglary claims increased 11% during the holidays, with the median cost of claim being US$3,258, US$2,011 and US$2,323 for the three groups, respectively.
With regard to property stolen from a vehicle, that increased 17% during the holidays, with the median cost of claim being US$2,188 for homeowners, US$886 for condo owners and US$1,745 for renters.
Allstate recommends such preventive measures as hiding purchases in car trunks when shopping, and ensuring someone is aware of a shipped gift’s anticipated arrival.
There are also the risks that can unfold into claims when people are not even home. The survey shows 60% of respondents plan to spend at least one night away from home this year, while leaving behind some potential concerns.
Overall for homeowners, condo owners and renters, claims related to burst pipes from freezing increased a whopping 722% during the holidays. Damage from ice dam build-up rose 23%, missing property from garage was up 51%, and property damage from the weight of snow/ice on the roof increased 64%.
The median cost of claim for the three groups were as follows:
Steps to help avoid costly claims when away include “check-ins” using geo-location services or travel plan updates; leaving kitchen or bathroom cabinet doors open to help circulate warmer air around the pipes if pipes are located near exterior walls; and during heavy snowfall, hire a professional to keep a home’s roof and gutters clear.