Despite the spooky ghost and goblin costumes many people are in good spirits in the days leading up to All Hallows Eve. However, by the next morning a damper has been put on the whole affair for many unfortunate souls – property owners. Recent reports show a 24% increase in crime-related insurance claims on Halloween with those connected to burglaries and property damage leading the way. That said, with a greater number of people on the streets around your property there is also an increased risk of accidental events to pile on to the list of potential claims. Today, Park Insurance is here with important tips to mitigating your risk as October 31st fast approaches.
5 Tips to Protecting Your Property and Reducing Liability and Insurance Claims on Halloween
1. Crime Proof Your Home
A vacated house is more likely to be broken into on Halloween. This is because neighbors and others won’t think twice about seeing someone sleuthing around your yard, even if they’re wearing a mask. It’s the one time of the year that this can be said. If you don’t plan on being home on Halloween, take extra precautions to protect your house from a break-in. Park has already laid out guides to doing so, right here:
Even though the above guides will help a lot, there is a unique precaution to take on Halloween. Whether home or not, homeowners not giving out candy will turn off the lights and close the drapes/shutters. They do this to keep trick-or-treaters at bay, but it invites burglars on to the property. To keep criminals AND trick-or-treaters away, post a sign saying “Sorry, All Out of Candy” out front while keeping exterior and interior lights shining bright. The simple sign will also help keep mischievous tricksters from vandalizing your property out of spite for you not recognizing Halloween, because the sign indicates otherwise.
2. Keep Your Car Out of Harm’s Way
Canadian Underwriter reports that personal vehicle vandalism nearly doubles on Halloween. If you have an indoor garage, park your car within instead of under the outdoor carport or on the road. If you don’t have one, be sure to follow our 5-Step Guide to Protect Your Vehicle from Break-ins and Theft.
3. Make Your Property a No Fireworks Zone
A number of fireworks are permitted for personal use in BC, and throughout October you will see fireworks pop-up shops and roadside stands in your area. Don’t take this as an invitation to put on your own fireworks show. While comprehensive all-risk insurance (more on this below) may cover you for damage to your property and neighboring properties, why put yourself in the line of fire for related claims? Skip the explosives, and ask that neighbors respect your property and do the same by taking their wares to a public park where it has been sanctioned by the local municipality. If despite our warnings you decide to go ahead with this activity, be sure to secure a family fireworks permit which will not only keep you from getting a fine, it can be used to help fight a claim against your insurance policy.
4. Takes Steps to Reduce Your Own Liability
Halloween also increases your own exposure to increased liability. When you really think about it, the risk is downright massive.
For starters children, parents, and even teens will be entering your property on a cold, dark, and often wet autumn night. If they’re in-costume their visibility will be significantly hampered and they will be less likely to see obstacles and slippery spots. The onus falls on you to make the grounds safe because given that it’s Halloween a case can be made that as a homeowner you should anticipate that people may come on to your property even if you have not invited them. Some of you may be giving candy to small children. If expired, or tainted, and even incites an allergic reaction you may be found liable. You may also be hosting a Halloween party where alcohol is served. In this case you take on social host liability and therefore you should take steps to limit your liquor liability because intoxicated guests may damage your (or a neighboring) property, cause physical injury or harm to themselves or others, and hop into their vehicle and drive under the influence. If there are underage people in attendance, your social host responsibility grows exponentially.
As you can see, homeowner liability risk can skyrocket on October 31st so be diligent when it comes to upkeep around your home exterior. You may also consider posting a highly visible sign (as per item #1) at the front gate to keep uninvited parties from entering your property (when not handing out candy). For those of you doling out treats, check to make sure candy has not expired AND even post a clear sign on the front door to warn trick-or-treaters about food allergies and cross-contamination. We know some of these tips may seem extreme but we live in extreme times when it comes to the potential for claims. That’s why you need to keep reading.
5. Update Your Insurance Policies Before the 31st
There may not be a more important time of the year to invite an independent broker to review your homeowners and automobile insurance policies to ensure that you’re covered for all-risks. Anything, and we mean ANYTHING can happen at this mischievous time of the year. To not protect yourself against the number of possible claims is like going to a costume party completely naked. Don’t be naked. Contact Park Insurance right away to receive a comprehensive review of your policies.