griswold light ballThe holidays can be a joyful time filled with family, friends, and good food. But the holidays also mean risks to your home and your belongings. Today, we’ll share with you common mishaps, if most homeowners policies cover them, and how to avoid them.

Your outdoor light display gets out of hand, and your shrubs burst into flames: YOU’RE COVERED!
Shrubs and outdoor plants are covered for fire under a typical homeowner’s policy; however, most policies limit coverage to 5% of the coverage for your dwelling. To prevent lighting-related fires, switch to LED lights. Not only are they more energy-efficient, they don’t produce heat like traditional bulbs so they are a safer option.

You pour a bunch of turkey grease down the drain, and your sewer backs up: YOU’RE NOT COVERED.
Most insurance policies don’t cover the damage related to sewer back-up. Check with your agent, though. You may be able to buy additional coverage for just his purpose. Just to be safe, dispose of all grease by pouring it into a coffee can or other disposable container.

Leftover pie and cookie crumbs have attracted pests who have chewed through your wiring: YOU’RE NOT COVERED.
Pest problems aren’t covered by typical insurance policies because they are considered a maintenance issue. This means that from the point of view of your insurer, you could have prevented the incident by keeping the critters away with traps, repellent, etc. Pet safe options to keeping away mice are using peppermint oil and small devices that emit a noise that humans can’t hear but mice hate.

The Grinch breaks into your house and steals your gifts: YOU’RE COVERED!
Most homeowners policies provide coverage for your possessions, somewhere between 50%-70% of your dwelling coverage. Keep in mind that there are some limits on luxury items, so talk to your agent if you need coverage on a particular expensive gift. Keep gifts away from areas that are visible from the street or your back yard, and never advertise your holiday haul on social media.

Uncle Lou had too much to drink and gets behind the wheel: YOU MAY BE COVERED.
Thirty-seven states have social host liability laws. This means that if you serve alcohol in your home and a guest leaves and hurts others, you could be held liable. Some homeowners insurance provides a limited amount of liquor liability coverage. In order to keep your guests and everyone else safe, try asking to hold your guests’ car keys until the end of the night, and calling a cab for those who are impaired.

The mailman slips on your icy walkway and hurts himself: YOU’RE COVERED!
Most policies provide about $100,000 worth of liability coverage to protect you against lawsuits in the case of bodily injury or property damage. Your may also include a clause to provide no-fault medical coverage or pay $1,000-$5,000 in medical bills if someone gets hurt on your property. Still, make sure that you shovel your walk and front porch, and use plenty of salt or ice-melt.

If you have any questions about your coverage, talk to your insurance agent and you’ll breath easy this holiday season!