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Most Common Holiday Accidents Covered by Home Insurance

Updated Dec 26, 2022

Updated Dec 26, 2022

Home > Home Insurance > Most Common Holiday Accidents Covered by Home Insurance

Each November and December, families come together to decorate, eat holiday meals, and exchange gifts with one another. As a result, more homeowners are on the road, cooking for extended periods, and spending many hours decorating both the inside and outside of their homes. While these activities are fun and festive, they also carry a higher risk of injury and mishaps.

Christmas trees can catch fire, decorations can break or become vandalized, and a slip and fall on a ladder can lead to serious injury. Thankfully, if you have adequate homeowners insurance coverage, you won’t face these challenges alone.

This article looks at some of the most common accidents that occur during the holidays that homeowners insurance covers.

Christmas Tree and House Fires

Christmas tree fire
Image Source: Canva

One of the most common and dangerous holiday season accidents is Christmas tree fires. When an under-watered tree comes into contact with a spark from a faulty wire or a fireplace, it can create a fast-burning conflagration. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about 160 Christmas tree fires each year result in, on average, two deaths, 12 injuries, and around $12 million in property damage. 

Most home insurance policies offer protection against fire damage under dwelling coverage. This coverage allows you to recoup your losses in the event of a Christmas tree, cooking, or electrical fire. To avoid holiday fires, we recommend always watering your Christmas tree daily, never using frayed or damaged holiday lights, and only using indoor and outdoor lights in their designated areas. 

Accidents and Injured Guests

When large groups of people come together, host parties, and enjoy holiday activities, accidents and injuries are more likely to occur. If one of your guests, be it a relative or a family friend, becomes injured on your property, you could be financially liable. Homeowners insurance personal liability coverage can help pay for any medical or financial tolls. Personal injury coverage has its limits, however, and only covers the following:

  • Injuries that occur on your property 
  • Damage to someone else’s property 
  • Lawsuits and court fees 
  • Damage and injury caused by pets

While there is a wide variety of damages protected by personal liability coverage, it doesn’t include the following:

  • Intentional harm or damage 
  • Motor vehicle accidents or incidents
  • Accident or injury to you or your family (this is instead covered by health insurance) 
  • Claims involving your business

Frozen Pipes and Water Damage

rusted frozen pipe with frost
Image Source: Canva

As winter proceeds and temperatures drop, several forms of damage can occur to your home. As water freezes, it expands by approximately 9%. This small increase in size doesn’t sound like a lot, but when a pipe is filled to the brim, it will burst as the water expands and the pressure builds. These burst pipes can lead to flooded basements, waterlogged yards, and other serious problems like mold and mildew. Most homeowners insurance covers water damage from internal appliances or structural faults, which includes pipes. 

Remember that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover water damage from external sources, such as weather events, flooding, and natural disasters (termed exclusions in policies). Furthermore, it doesn’t cover clogs or poor maintenance, so if you pour all that turkey grease down the drain or clog your garbage disposal with stuffing, you’ll be footing the bill. 

Online Scams

Unfortunately, online scammers don’t take a break from the holidays. Even worse, many online scams take advantage of the frantic, shopping-focused nature of the holiday season to prey on unsuspecting homeowners. Some of the most popular scams that make the rounds each holiday season include the following: 

  • Phishing scams — This scam attempts to fleece valuable information from homeowners. You may receive an email or text alert stating that your credit card has been locked, a delivery has been canceled, or a bank account is at risk. The scam will then ask for login information to rectify the problem, and then they’ll use this information to lock you out and make fraudulent purchases.
  • Fake sites or advertisements — Similar to phishing scams, fake sites pretend to be reputable companies, but their only intent is to get login information. They may appear to be a trusted site, even with similar URLs, but they’re false and will not deliver the services or items they advertise. Once your credit card information is entered, they typically overcharge you. 
  • Fake charities — One of the most despicable holiday scams are those that pretend to be charitable organizations. Often they’ll send out emails or create social media ads, looking to steal from the philanthropic. Sometimes these scams will overcharge or steal credit card information, but other times they’ll only take the amount originally donated. Either way, check a charity’s authenticity before donating or seek out charities through their websites. 

Any of these scams carry the potential for fraudulent financial charges and, at worst, identity theft. Homeowners insurance can help you with identity theft coverage when these situations occur. Some policies offer this protection with their baseline coverage, while others offer it as an endorsement. In either case, identity theft coverage helps you cover the cost of investigating the theft, reversing the damage to your credit score, and getting your identity back. Notice that this doesn’t include reimbursing you for any stolen funds. 

Porch Pirates and Theft 

porch pirate taking brown packages
Image Source: Canva

With the convenience provided by Amazon and other online retailers, it has become easier than ever to shop for your loved ones. There is a major downside to this online shopping revolution, and that is porch pirates. These opportunistic thieves will patrol neighborhoods during the holidays, scooping up any unsecured packages they can access. If this happens, or something else like decorations are stolen, or a burglary occurs, homeowners insurance can help reimburse you with personal property coverage. Depending on your policy, there may be caps for high-value items (such as jewelry or electronics), and most policies cover between 50% to 70% of the home’s policy coverage. 

Vandalized Decorations 

While uncommon, sometimes property can become vandalized, and homeowners insurance can compensate you for the damages. This coverage applies to almost every kind of vandalism, including the following:

  • Arson
  • Removal of signage and flags 
  • Destruction of foliage like trees, shrubs, and gardens
  • Destruction of lawns, like through salting, poisoning, or burning 
  • Graffiti and spray paint 
  • Carving, tagging, or other damage

If your Christmas decorations are destroyed, you can file a home insurance claim to have the damage covered. Most policies will require you to pay a preset deductible before covering vandalism damages – this deductible can vary from policy to policy and is set upon signing up. To ensure you’re fairly and fully compensated for your damaged decorations, you should always keep a thorough record of your property in a home inventory, file a police report right away, take photos of the damage, and promptly file a claim with your insurance agent or provider. 

Liquor Liability

various liquor in glasses
Image Source: Canva

If you’re hosting a party, and one of your guests becomes too intoxicated and gets into an accident, you may be held accountable. Currently, there are 43 states in the U.S. with “social host liability” laws. These laws state that the host is obligated to ensure that their guests don’t become too intoxicated and that they share a portion of the financial and legal blame for their guest’s actions. If an accident does occur that leaves you on the hook for financial damages, some policies can protect you with personal liability coverage. 

Final Thoughts on Homeowners Insurance Claims and Holiday Coverage

While many things can go wrong during the holidays, taking proper preventative measures and having a comprehensive homeowners or renters insurance plan can prepare you for the worst. Even though homeowners insurance can cover a lot, each policy is different, and yours may not have the coverage mentioned in this article. We always recommend carefully reading your policy so that if you need to file a holiday claim, you’ll understand exactly where and how you’re protected.

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