Halloween Tips To Protect Your Home From Tricks on Halloween
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During Halloween, standard homeowners insurance should cover you for several types of damages stemming from vandalism, theft, fires and some spooky trickery. However, there are steps you should take to protect your property and reduce your liability exposure on Halloween, like clearing tripping hazards on your front yard, testing your security system and switching to flameless candles.
Keep reading to see how Halloween home insurance works and tips for protecting against tricks and pranks pulled throughout the night.
What Are the Most Common Tricks Played on Homeowners During Halloween?
When you combine Halloween with increased substance use and reckless young adults, your property may be the target of vandalism, theft, fires and liability issues. On top of stocking up on candy for trick-or-treaters preparing, you should watch out for criminal activity throughout Halloween.
Vandalism can be harmless pranks on Halloween, like throwing eggs and pumpkins, toilet papering and silly stringing a yard. However, a poorly aimed toss of an egg can break a window. Homeowners should also be wary of intentional vandalism to your home and Halloween decorations. Fortunately, homeowners insurance will cover damages caused by both intentional and unintentional acts of vandalism.
Your house is an easier target for theft if the perpetrator thinks you're not home. While you're out at a Halloween party, your home may be targeted for burglary or vandalism.
You may still face theft and vandalism even if you’re staying inside. With more people walking the streets, the likelihood of somebody stealing your lawn ornaments or even your car goes up. The most recent data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) ranked Halloween as third for the holiday with the most number of vehicles stolen.
Other Possible Losses To Consider
A jack-o’-lantern illuminated with a wax candle looks festive but also poses a fire risk. An innocent trick-or-treater may accidentally knock over your jack-o’-lantern and that candle could spread fire to dry leaves and, eventually, your home.
Consider the fact that between 2017 and 2019, an average of 9,200 fires with an estimated annual average of 25 deaths, 100 injuries and $117 million in property loss were reported within a three-day window of Halloween.
The increased traffic to your home’s doorstep also creates more opportunities for accidents to happen, like trick-or-treaters tripping over electrical cords or Halloween decor.
What Type of Coverage Is Best for Your Home on Halloween?
A standard homeowners insurance policy will cover you for damages on Halloween related to vandalism, theft and fire plus liability expenses. Since this type of home insurance is required by most lenders, your existing home insurance policy will likely cover against a wide range of losses.
In most cases, you’ll have to meet your plan’s deductible before your insurance will cover a loss. It should be noted that filing a home insurance claim may not always be worth it if the damage done is less or equal to your plan’s deductible.
Here’s how coverages work in a standard policy:
Covers the physical structure of your home
Somebody throws a pumpkin through your window
Other Structures (Coverage B)
Covers other structures, such as a shed or detached garage
Somebody vandalizes your shed and steals its contents
Covers your personal belongings, such as clothes, electronics or decorations
Your home was burglarized while you were trick-or-treating with your family
Covers liability expenses when you’re held responsible for another person’s injuries or property damages
Somebody trips over gravestone decorations placed on your front yard and needs stitches
Pays for approved living expenses if your home is temporarily uninhabitable
Your house caught fire from a prank and you need to temporarily live in a hotel while it is being repaired
Homeowners insurance will not cover damages to your car on Halloween but your auto insurance might. If your car is stolen or vandalized during Halloween, you will need comprehensive insurance coverage to be reimbursed for your loss. If you have liability-only coverage, then you will have to pay for your losses out of pocket.
What Happens if Trick-Or-Treaters Get Hurt on My Property?
The bodily injury liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy will cover a trick-or-treater if they are hurt while on your property. For example, your insurer will pay for the trick-or-treater’s medical bills if they break an ankle after tripping over an electric cord powering your Halloween display.
A standard home policy will also provide coverage if you’re held liable for another person’s property damage. For example, say a mom brings her child to your doorstep but accidentally drops her phone after a Halloween decoration falls on her. Your plan’s personal liability coverage will reimburse the mom for her damaged phone in addition to any injuries she sustained.
How To Protect Your Home From Tricksters on Halloween
Use the following tips to protect your home from accidents, Halloween pranks and malicious behavior so you can avoid filing a Halloween home insurance claim:
Park Your Car in the Garage or Behind a Gate
A locked gate or garage door can be a simple deterrent for auto theft — the less access a thief has to your car, the better. If you don’t have a garage or gate, consider investing in a wheel chock lock and steering wheel lock to protect your car from theft.
Keep Your Yard Clear and Well-Lit
Clutter in your yard and walkway creates tripping hazards. When decorating your yard, make sure pathways are clear and well-lit. Also, keep your yard clear of any leaves, hoses and rocks.
Secure Your Pets Somewhere Safe
The last thing you need on a major holiday or any day for that matter, is to have your dog bite someone. Halloween can be anxiety-inducing for pets. Random strangers are coming to your home, ringing your doorbell and knocking incessantly until someone answers. Even a well-behaved dog can get riled up and protective and bite someone.
Luckily, the medical payments coverage of your homeowners should cover minor medical bills for injured parties, potentially up to $5,000.
Fortify Your Mailbox
Your mailbox can fall victim to drunk drivers losing control of their vehicle or even vandals in cars swinging at mailboxes with baseball bats as they drive through the street. Fortunately, homeowners insurance will most likely cover your mailbox damages, but double-check with your insurance carrier if you have a free-standing mailbox located adjacent to your property line. Consider building a protective guard rail around your mailbox to protect your mail and small packages.
Treat Visitors Kindly
Trick-or-treaters may retaliate against your home and property if you treat them unkindly. A friendly attitude, generous candy handouts and costume compliments can help build a friendly rapport with visitors and prevent retaliatory behavior. As Aesop's story The Lion and the Mouse teaches us, no act of kindness is ever wasted.
Turn Off Your Main Lights and Shut Your Curtains
Shutting off your lights and closing your curtains tells visitors your home is not open for Halloween business. Having fewer people visit your property lowers the likelihood of accidental injuries and subsequent liability claims.
Keep Watch With Your Neighbors
One of the best defenses you have against burglars and vandals is your neighbors. Introduce yourself to the people on your street and agree to alert each other of suspicious activity.
Use Flameless Candles
A jack-o’-lantern paired with the heat of a real candle releases a wonderful pumpkin scent but can also increase the risk of fire. Left unattended, a candle can tip and spark a fire in its surroundings. Switching to electronic candles mimics the warm glow, minus the burning hazard.
Install Doorbells or Security Cameras
Installing cameras and other security devices on your property can act as a deterrent against vandals and thieves (and qualify you for a smart home device discount). Halloween visitors with nefarious intentions may be more hesitant after realizing they’re on camera. If you file an insurance claim and notify the police, you can supply the camera footage to prove when and how the crime happened.
Secure Your Doors and Windows
Ghouls and ghosts can probably phase through secured doors and windows but thieves and vandals can’t. Even if thieves attempt to pick the lock, they may give up if the extra time and effort outweigh the potential benefit. Installing motion-sensing lights around your home’s entry points can create a deterrent to burglaries, as well.
How Do I File a Halloween Home Insurance Claim?
Follow these simple steps when filing Halloween home insurance claims when your property is damaged or stolen this Halloween:
- File a police report, if needed: Home insurance companies will usually want you to file a police report if any criminal activity was involved. Make sure you document the name and badge number of the police officers and ask how you can obtain a copy of the police report — you will need to supply this to your insurer when filing a claim.
- Document your losses: Take pictures of damages to your property in good lighting and from multiple angles. If you have a home inventory with receipts that prove the lost items’ values, you can submit copies to your insurance company. If anyone is injured, take pictures of the injuries and get the injured person’s contact information.
- Notify your insurance company as soon as possible: Depending on your insurance company, you can submit a claim via mobile app, online portal or calling an insurance agent. Be ready to provide your policy number and documentation of the crime. Your agent will explain the claims process, requirements and whether the claim will exceed your deductible.
- Accept the settlement: After negotiating the settlement, you can use the check to replace your damaged property. If there were damages to your home, such as a burned wall or broken window, you should compare quotes from at least three contractors to determine a fair price for the repair work. Once you find a reputable contractor, you can schedule when to begin the repairs.