OK, so this is probably not the time of the year that you are thinking about your home insurance. But the festive period is when most home insurance claims occur, and probably not for the reason you would think.
There is a common misconception that burglaries significantly rise around the Christmas period. With valuable Christmas presents in the house and families away visiting relatives it is easy to understand how this idea began.
In fact domestic burglaries remain fairly consistent throughout the year. In 2014 there was between 32-39 thousandrecorded cases each month, and national figures remain fairly consistent each year. This means that in any given month there is a 0.001% chance of your home being burgled.
Statistics from AXA show that theft claims from the 23rd – 31st of December was 39% lower per day compared to the rest of the year in 2013 (even thieves take the day off).
These statistics may give you self-assurance or it might not; the real concern you should have is yourselves.
Accidental damage soars over the Christmas period. Children in the house are one of the biggest factors, when they are not causing chaos at school they are causing chaos at home. Add in the factor that Santa is coming to town and the end result is that broken vase you were given last year.
One too many mulled wines may leave you a bit too ‘festive’ as well. Research from More Than suggests that Brits caused a massive £685 million worth of household damage the Christmas of 2011, just from being too drunk.
The prime cause of accidental damage was starting a kitchen fire while drunkenly cooking (1.29 million incidents). Next on the list was water damage from leaving the taps running (1.25 million incidents) and then breaking expensive presents and other items by falling over whilst drunk (1.21 million incidents).
It’s not just property and presents that get damaged over the festive period but us Brits also injure ourselves too. More than 80,000 people are taken to hospital over the Christmas period for falls cuts and burns.
Whilst sprucing up our homes for the festive period around 1000 people are hurt putting up decorations. A further 1000 people are injured overreaching for the top branches of Christmas trees and a further 350 injured while putting up the tree lights. Shockingly, since 1996, 31 people have died in Britain whilst watering the Christmas tree with the fairy lights plugged in.
The Christmas dinner can be equally hazardous with 1 in 10 burnt lighting the Christmas pudding. Also regrettably, 30 people die each year from food poisoning, most commonly when turkey or stuffing is not cooked correctly.
Christmas should be a time of joy for all but if you are not careful it could be a time of misery. With candles, fireplaces and Christmas dinners the chance of fire damage is more than twice as high during the week around Christmas.
If you have a fireplace ensure that you also have a fire guard in place at all times and that a fire is not left unattended. Also you will want to ensure that the chimney is properly sweeped before its use.
Candles also shouldn’t be left unattended. Around 4% of the UK population say they have accidents with candles, one particularly unlucky AXA customer claimed for over £6,000 worth of damage when a draught blew a string of cards onto a candle, eventually causing fire damage to 2 rooms.
If you are going away this festive period then you will also want to consider travel insurance too.
If the home is being left over Christmas then you will need to take precautions to avoid damage. Turning off the water supply would be a good start to prevent frozen pipes or a leak. Unfortunately though, a survey from Ageas points out that 1 in 6 of us would not be able locate the cut-off valve and only 1 in 2 would know how to shut off the water supply in the event of a water leak.
When your house is left unoccupied it is also left at mercy to the elements with no one to safeguard in case of an emergency. Britain has already seen widespread flooding, particularly in the North-West after Storm Desmond wreaked havoc through Cumbria, earlier in December. In November, Britain also endured Storm Abigail, which brought adverse weather in the form of gales rather than flooding. If you are going away this Christmas make sure that every precaution is taken before you leave home.
For peace of mind this Christmas, be safe and make sure to invest in quality home insurance. There are a vast number of options out there to provide you cover, but knowing exactly what you need is tough to understand.
Call Wiser can help you find the perfect five-star policy without having to go through the hassle and jargon. We work with over 30 of the top insurers in the UK to find great value cover that is tailored to your needs.