At this time of year we can get a bit carried away with all of the present opening and eating (often the best bits of Christmas!) and forget about some of the disasters that could take place over the festive period! Now, I don't want to put a dampener on the celebrations but according to Confused.com, Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for burglars, with home insurance claims rising in January following December thefts. Thefts also jump by 8% on New Year's Eve as we leave our homes unoccupied to party the night away! According to Aviva Christmas Day also sees an increase in fire claims of 120% compared with an average day and more than a third of freezer claims happen over the festive period! Yes, that's a bit depressing but don't worry, with good home insurance and some easy preventative measures, you can still have a merry Christmas!
1. Burglary - Expensive presents are a magnet to festive thieves with things like TVs, Apple devices, jewellery and bikes top of the criminal wishlist. Keep presents out of sight and don't advertise the empty boxes by leaving them outside. If you're lucky enough to receive any particularly valuable Christmas presents this year, give your insurance company a call to see if your level of cover needs to be raised. Many home insurers offer a Christmas uplift where they automatically increase your contents cover over the festive period by about 10% to make sure your presents are protected. The AA even go up by 20%! However, it is worth looking at your own policy documents
2. Theft from cars - Thieves often hang around car parks at big retail parks or shopping centres, waiting for you to drop off gifts before starting the second round of shopping. Stick as much as you can in the boot, out of sight, and carry everything else. Or if you're visiting a number of shops in succession, consider leaving your purchases in the store and collecting them all in one go at the end of your expedition. If everything is hidden in the boot and your car is broken into, then a comprehensive car insurance policy may give you around £100 protection but no more. A home insurance policy with personal possessions cover is likely to be better, but check that you are covered outside the home too.
3. Fire - Fairy lights and candles are a staple in the festive home but they can cause SO much damage if you aren't careful with them. Among the most common causes of fires are electrical faults with Christmas lights and overloaded sockets and candles that set light to curtains, cards or decorations. However, cooking Christmas dinner is the biggest cause of blazes, according to London Fire Brigade. In the capital alone there are an average of 84 cooking fires between December 20 and 30 and more than a third of these are on Christmas Day! Make sure smoke alarms are working and turn everything off when you go to bed.
4. Freezer - Dig out your home insurance documents and check whether you have freezer cover. Freezer cover often comes as standard on most home insurance policies but if not, is a useful extra to have as it makes sure your goods are insured in the case of a power cut or freezer malfunction - something which is all too common in the winter months! Research from Confused.com says that the average freezer contains almost £200 worth of food, but a third of freezers contain between £200 and £500 worth of perishables - you don't want to lose that kind of cash, especially at Christmas!
5. Bad weather - We have all felt the air get decidedly chilly this week and UK insurers receive around half a million claims for storm damage and cold-related issues each year with the average claim being around £700. Although the majority of the claims will be settled, it is SO important that you keep your property well maintained and in a good condition......so fix that loose fence panel BEFORE the storms hit! Remember, you are most at risk of your pipes bursting during a cold snap when your home is empty so if you have ANY trips planned this winter keep the central heating at a minimum 12C-15C. If your pipes are frozen, the key is to thaw them out slowly and gently and know where the main stopcock is! It is SO important to keep your boiler serviced and clean to keep it running efficiently. Check whether you have home emergency cover or boiler insurance on your home insurance policy as standard. If you don't, it might be worth adding but it will make your premium higher. ALWAYS shop around and don't just take the cover from your existing energy supplier.