Source: aig private client group
During the holidays, you may be vacationing, hosting gatherings at your home or receiving valuable gifts. To ensure that you remain properly protected, here are holiday-related tips to consider:
- Hosting events at home increases the potential for accidents that can lead to personal liability lawsuits. Examples include guests slipping on a wet floor or icy walkway, a car accident caused by an “over-served” attendee, sickness due to spoiled food, dog bites and more.
- Possessions inside the home are subject to breakage or theft as a result of increased foot traffic. In addition, fires can stem from overloaded electrical outlets, neglected candles, unsecured decorations and cooking mishaps.
- When hiring outside help, such as a catering company or valet parking service, their actions or injuries sustained on the premises can link back to the homeowner.
What you can do:
- Consider the weather conditions and how they will impact traffic inside and outside the home. Take precautions to address wet, slippery walkways or foyers. Notify guests to take extra care around areas that are particularly crowded or that you know to be potentially unsafe.
- Be mindful of holiday décor. Could items on upper levels fall? Are any areas obstructed that could pose a safety concern?
- Move high-value items (particularly artwork, breakables and sculptures) away from high-traffic areas when possible.
- Keep jewelry and other smaller valuables out of sight and in locked safes whenever possible. If you have a wine cellar inside the home, lock the entrance.
- Have contact information handy for local taxi services, in case guests cannot drive home safely.
- Burn candles with care. Never leave a burning candle unattended or near combustible material. Trim the wick each time before lighting, and when extinguishing, make sure the candle is fully out.
- Unplug interior decorations before going to sleep, and unplug appliances when not in use. Avoid using old plugs that don’t fit snugly into the outlet. In addition, replace devices or décor with risk of fire increases.
- If an outside vendor is helping with the party, request a certificate of liability insurance and evidence of workers’ compensation insurance to be sure their insurance will respond if there is an incident.
Leaving the house unoccupied
- Weather events increase the chances of property damage across the U.S. Freezing temperatures can lead to burst pipes, while heavy rains, wind and ice can cause power outages and flooding.
- A vacant home is a target for burglars.
- Announcing vacation plans via online social networks also can increase the risk of burglary.
What you can do:
- Occupancy is the best prevention. If you aren’t in a position to hire a caretaker, have a friend or neighbor check in periodically—with their car in the driveway.
- Look to technology. Low-temperature sensors and water shut-off devices can help identify problems before they get out of control. Set lights to turn on/off during the day—not just at night. It’s also easier than ever to monitor your home remotely from your phone or tablet.
- Conduct a professional security assessment to ensure that the existing alarm system provides the most optimal protection against burglary, fire and low temperatures.
- Also consider behavior patterns that can elevate the risk of burglary. For example, if your family travels at the exact same time each year, it’s easier for a criminal to target the home.
- Advise family members to use social media wisely. Don’t announce that the home will be vacant to a broad (and often unknown) audience.
- When buying gifts or other items online, request that all deliveries arrive with signature required to avoid valuables from being left unattended on your doorstep.
- Liability laws may vary from country to country, as does the climate for litigation.
- Gifts and other items purchased abroad often are lost or damaged before making it home.
- Valuables are left accidentally in hotel rooms or on planes.
- If a family member gets sick or injured, non-refundable plans may be canceled or cut short. If traveling to a remote destination, top-quality medical care may not be within reach.
What you can do:
- Consult an insurance professional prior to your trip to better understand local laws and your coverage, particularly if renting a car or recreational vehicle. When possible, choose an excess liability (umbrella) insurance policy that offers worldwide coverage.
- Leave high-value jewelry at home in a safe or safety deposit box. If you must travel with jewelry, keep it with you at all times; do not place in checked luggage.
- If larger or fragile items purchased on vacation cannot travel home with you (such as artwork or cases of wine), consult a specialized shipping company for assistance. Notify your insurance agent of any substantial new purchases to ensure that coverage is immediately in place.
- A homeowners’ policy may not be sufficient for jewelry, art and other high-value collectibles. A separate private collections policy offers more appropriate coverage. For example, AIG provides automatic coverage for newly acquired items for up to 90 days. There also is no deductible, and worldwide coverage extends to items in transit.
- Obtain travel insurance, which can provide coverage for medical evacuation and trip cancellation.
- If a family member has a preexisting medical condition, identify local emergency contacts at your destination prior to departure.