Allstate Data Shows Hazards Hit Close to Home During Holiday Season
New Poll Shows Changes in Activities and Routines that Can Increase Home Security Risk
New insurance claims data1 from the Allstate Insurance Company shows an average of 67,500 homeowners insurance claims are reported during the holidays, and some threats to home security and safety rise significantly during the holiday season. A new survey also highlights how holiday pressures and changes in activities, behaviors and routines can leave homeowners vulnerable to home perils.
"The holidays are very busy for families and many have significant changes in the dynamics of their daily lives during this time," said Kathy Mabe, president of the Western U.S. and Canada for Allstate. "It's important to understand how the holiday season can increase the risks to your home's safety and security and to take the steps needed to keep your home hazard-free."
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:
- Overall, home fire claims jump 15 percent during the holiday season.
- Candles are the most likely holiday-related cause of a home fire. In fact, Christmas week is among the top three weeks of the year 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 fire 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 involved an artificial Christmas tree in the homeowners' living room. The total loss amount cost nearly $2.4 million.
In addition to fire claims, the holidays lead to significant increases in other types of claims. For example, claims for theft increase by 7 percent during the holidays, and sewer back-up claims increase by 19 percent.
Changes in Routine Increase Risk
New survey data shows that holiday pressures and changes in activities, behaviors and routines can leave homeowners more susceptible to home perils. According to the survey…
- More than half (52 percent) of consumers state they are trying to do too many things at one time during the holidays.
- Sixty percent of consumers are trying new techniques for cooking and decorating.
- More than half (55 percent) of respondents who drink alcohol during the holidays say they drink more during the holidays than they usually do throughout the year.
- More than half (56 percent) of consumers revealed that their daily schedule and routine changes during the holidays.
- Seven in 10 (71 percent) consumers leave delivered packages outside their home, drawing attention to valuable gifts and holiday spending.
- More than half (54 percent) of respondents travel overnight during the holidays – leaving their homes more susceptible to risk.
- About four in 10 (37 percent) consumers with small children admit to becoming distracted or forgetful during the holiday season.
Advance planning and precaution can help protect your home and help make your holidays hazard-free. Allstate offers these 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 polling, most Americans celebrate the holidays in a home, whether it's their home, a family member's home or a friend's home," Mabe continued. "While 76 percent of respondents say they're mindful of potential hazards in the home, preventable claims do increase during this time of year. By taking some simple precautions, families can celebrate with better peace of mind this holiday season."
For more home protection tips and to learn about Allstate's homeowners offerings, contact an Allstate agent or visit www.allstate.com.
The survey of 9,880 American adults age 18+ was conducted October 25 – November 5, 2013 via an online survey using a sample panel. 200 interviews were conducted in each state with the exception of AK: n = 104, WY: n = 140, ND: n = 174, SD: n = 181, VT: n = 176, and DC: n = 105. Analyses for each state were weighted to match its demographic profile. In addition, analyses of the overall findings were weighted by the national population parameters. The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting, Inc. (FTI) for Allstate.
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names and Allstate Financial business segment. Allstate branded insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services are offered through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as via www.allstate.com, www.allstate.com/financial and 1-800 Allstate®, and are widely known through the slogan "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®." As part of Allstate's commitment to strengthen local communities, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate employees, agency owners and the corporation provided $29 million in 2012 to thousands of nonprofit organizations and important causes across the United States.
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1Allstate actuaries conducted an in-depth analysis of company claims data to determine the likelihood homeowners across the country will experience a homeowners claims around the holiday season (mid-November through mid-January) compared to the entire year. Internal claims were analyzed over a four-year period (from January 2009 through December 2012) and excluded catastrophic events to ensure the findings would not be impacted by external influences such as weather events. Seasonal perils such as wind or hail that naturally occur during the holiday season are not attributed as "holiday-related" whereas perils such as theft are attributed as "holiday-related." Allstate's homeowners' policies represent about 9 percent of all U.S. home policies, making this report a realistic snapshot of what's happening in America's homes.
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