For many, Halloween means buckets of candy, clever costumes and spooky decorations. For some home and auto owners, it also may mean theft, vandalism and liability.
Claims spike on October 30 and 31 in the United States. Insurers and their clients see everything from injuries and accidental fires to malicious destruction of property and auto-related fatalities.
As you prepare for the most haunted night of the year, consider the following seven tips for protecting your property and ensuring the safety of the ghouls and goblins that will be roaming the streets.
1. Clear walkways to prevent slips and falls. When it’s dark out, hazards such as tree roots, holes, uneven surfaces and extension cords are hard to see. Make sure walkways are unobstructed and well lit.
2. Secure decorations against bad weather and theft. Planning an over-the-top holiday display? Make sure your decorations can’t blow away and that guests won’t trip over them. If your display is elaborate and costly, keep your receipts and take pictures. If items are stolen or damaged, file a police report.
3. Avoid using live flames. Reduce the chance of accidental fires by using glow sticks, LED lights or battery-operated lights. Avoid placing decorations, fabric and costumes near heat sources. Additionally, don’t overload electrical circuits. Use electrical decorations that have been certified by safety authorities such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL), and Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
4. Control your pets. Even the most well-mannered four-legged family member may bite or scratch strangers if scared or overstimulated by the evening’s noise and strange sights. Learn more about pets and liability here.
5. Protect your home if you plan to be away. Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your property. Activate your security system if you have one and leave lights on to discourage vandals. If your home or other property is damaged, document it and ask your insurance carrier for an inspection before you clean it up.
6. Park your car, truck or other vehicles in a garage if possible. At the very least, move them off the street where they are less likely to become targets.
7. Drive cautiously to avoid injuring others. Consider that many of the people on the streets will be overly excited children wearing costumes that may make it hard for them to see your car. Slow down. Pay attention. Ignore your phone.
Speak with your insurance broker now to discover what is or isn’t in your policy. For example, did you know that your homeowners policy might cover damage to your loved one’s gravestone, even though it’s not on your property? But if you create a haunted house on your property and charge admission, that could be considered a business and likely would not be covered.
Contact Hylant to review your personal insurance policies and take some of the fright out of the night.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.