NORTHBROOK, Ill. — New insurance claims data from the Allstate Insurance Company show theft poses as a threat to home security and safety for Illinois residents during the holiday season.
A new survey also highlights how holiday pressures and changes in activities, behaviors and routines can leave Illinois homeowners vulnerable to home perils.
“Breaking out of our routines and making the most of our time with family and friends is what the holidays are all about,” said Brian Cobb, territory sales leader for Allstate in Illinois. “It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, so Allstate is reminding homeowners to use caution and remember to think through potential safety hazards in the home this holiday season.”
The claims information indicates that holiday-related activities can cause losses for Illinois homeowners as follow:
• During the holidays, theft claims increase by 5 percent for Illinois homeowners.
• Illinois homeowners are most likely to experience a theft claim over the holiday season.
• Compared to the national average, Illinois sewer back-up claims are 31 percent more likely to occur; theft claims are 19 percent more likely to occur.
Nationally, the claims information indicates that holiday-related activities can cause one of the biggest holiday home hazards — fire — and the losses can be quite large, as follow:
• Candles are the most likely to cause a holiday-related fire. In fact, Christmas week is among the top three weeks for candle-related claims. The median cost for candle-related claims is almost $50,000.
• On average, there are three times more turkey fryer claims during the holiday season than any other time of the year. The median cost for turkey fryer-related claims is almost $29,000.
• Around New Year’s Eve (last week of December through first week in January), there are nearly twice as many claims caused by fireworks. The median cost for fireworks-related claims is nearly $14,000.
• Christmas trees are another holiday-related hazard that may result in costly damages. The median cost for Christmas tree-related claims is more than $100,000.
• Since 2008, the most costly holiday fire claim involved an artificial Christmas tree in the homeowners’ living room. The total loss amount cost nearly $2.4 million.
Changes in routine increase risk
New Illinois survey data show that holiday pressures and changes in activities, behaviors and routines can leave homeowners more susceptible to home perils. According to the survey …
• The majority (51 percent) of Illinois consumers report they are trying to do too many things at one time during the holidays.
• 61 percent of Illinois consumers are trying new techniques for cooking and decorating.
• More than half (62 percent) of Illinois respondents who drink alcohol during the holidays say they drink more during the holidays than they usually do throughout the year.
• 54 percent of Illinois consumers revealed that their daily schedule and routine changes during the holidays.
• Nearly 7 in 10 (68 percent) Illinois consumers leave delivered packages outside their home, drawing attention to valuable gifts and holiday spending.
• More than half (53 percent) of Illinois respondents are traveling overnight during the holidays — leaving their homes more susceptible to risk.
Advance planning and precaution can protect your home and help make the holidays hazard-free. Allstate offers the following tips to secure your home during the holidays:
• Before the holidays, install new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that family members can locate and operate fire extinguishers. Test all fire prevention devices to make sure they function properly.
• Be careful in the kitchen. The incorrect disposal of cooking grease, overuse of garbage disposals and improper or excessive disposal of waste can result in clogged drains and can cause sewer problems during this time of year.
• Never leave burning candles unattended, and always place them out of reach of children. Make it a part of your routine to check that all candles are extinguished before you go to bed each night.
• Make a smart tree purchase. If buying a natural tree, make sure it’s fresh so it will be less of a fire hazard. Artificial trees should be labeled as fire resistant. Keep your tree away from heat sources, and trim trees with flame-resistant materials. Never use lit candles to decorate trees.
• Check your holiday lights, throwing away any that are broken and don’t overload the outlets. Only lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use should be used outside.
• When shopping, don’t leave purchases in the passenger compartment of your unattended vehicle. Store them out of sight, in the trunk.
• When in plain view, piled gifts around a Christmas tree serve as an invitation to burglars. Close the shades or drapes if you’re going to be away.
• Don’t advertise shopping trips or gift purchases on social media. Whether it’s “check-ins” using geo-location services, travel plan updates, or even photos uploaded while at a holiday party, people may be unknowingly giving today’s “digital thieves” greater insight into the contents of your car’s trunk, times you’re away from home and even the holiday gifts hiding in your closet.
“According to our poll, celebrating the holidays is important to majority of Illinois consumers,” Cobb said. “It’s natural to get excited and go the extra mile to make this time special for your loved ones, but also beware of potential mishaps and protect your holiday home with these simple tips to make the very most of this season.”
For more home protection tips and to learn about Allstate’s homeowners offerings, visit www.goodlife.allstate.com.
Posted Dec. 18, 2013