By Caterina Pontoriero
Halloween is a scary holiday, but even the goriest costumes or darkest haunted houses aren’t as scary as the risks insureds need to protect themselves against, such as fire, distracted driving, vandalism and theft.
According to claims data from New York City-based Travelers Cos., on average there are 24 percent more crime-related claims on Halloween than any other day of the year. Of those claims, 19 percent are related to vandalism and “malicious mischief,” 21 percent are off-premises theft (personal items such as a GPS or laptop left in a vehicle) and 60 percent are on-premises thefts.
There are precautions homeowners can take to prevent having a claim this Halloween. Here are some Halloween safety tips from Travelers that agents can share with their customers:
- Watch out for trick-or-treaters
Be cautious while driving, as trick-or-treaters populate the streets at night. It’s important to avoid distractions and drive at a safe pace, especially while in populated neighborhoods with people out and about.
- Stay alert when trick-or-treating
Like drivers, it’s important to stay alert when walking from house to house with trick-or-treaters. Encourage customers to talk to children about the importance of looking both ways before crossing the street. Trick-or-treaters should also carry a flashlight, wear reflective clothing if possible and avoid approaching homes that are dark.
- Don’t make your home welcoming to thieves
To help prevent theft, homeowners shouldn’t let homes appear unoccupied. Homeowners should leave the lights and/or TV on in the home to give the impression that someone is there. Another tip is to let neighbors who may be home know the homeowners will be away, asking them to key an eye on the place. Homeowners should also avoid leaving spare keys anywhere outside the home.
Insureds should check with their agents to make sure they have proper coverage to protect against Halloween risks. (Photo: iStock)
- Check your coverage and be prepared
In the even that there is a theft, encourage homeowners to be prepared. Homeowners should make sure they have the right type and amount of insurance coverage. Creating a home inventory can speed up the claim process.
- Avoid fire hazards
Pumpkin carving might be a tradition, but using candles can be a major fire hazard. When it comes to decorating, use lights and other electrical decorations that have been tested for safety. Look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or another nationally recognized laboratory. Never staple, nail through or fasten electrical wires or extension cords and plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters to help reduce the risk of electric shock.
- Consider property risks
Homeowners should check the outside of their home to identify and minimize potential dangers, especially those difficult to see after dark. For example, check to make sure temporary extension cords are secured to avoid becoming a tripping hazard and walking surfaces are even, clear of debris and well lit.
- Don’t let your haunted house come back to haunt you
Charging for admission for a haunted house can be considered a business activity. Let insureds know they should consult with their agent or insurance company representative to ensure they have the proper insurance coverage.