Holiday mishaps: Am I covered by insurance?
Sometimes the holiday season is not always merry and bright. When calamity ensues, it's wise to know if your insurance provides coverage.
One cautionary note: You want to think twice before you phone your agent and put in a claim if your deductible is, for instance, $500 or $1,000 and any damage is likely to be valued at less than that. It wouldn't be worth it to you financially, and there's always the possibility that your insurance company could hike your rates if you do put in a claim.
If gifts are stolen from right underneath your Christmas tree while you are out, you can file a claim with your home insurer. If presents are stolen from your car, your homeowners insurance would cover that, too, though you may be required to show receipts when you file a claim.
A holiday decoration causes dings and dents
If an outdoor holiday ornament breaks loose from your house and rolls down the street crashing into your car causing a dent, your collision car insurance would cover the damage. However, if a holiday decoration gets loose due to wild winds, becomes a flying object, and falls on your car causing damage, that would be a comprehensive claim, says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com.
Be careful looking at holiday lights
What happens if you're driving down the street one evening admiring the houses that are beautifully lit up with holiday decorations and you rear-end the car in front of you? Would this be covered by your auto insurance? You bet, says Pete Moraga, spokesman for The Insurance Information Network of California. "Collision insurance would cover your own vehicle, and comprehensive insurance would cover any damage to your vehicle not caused by an accident," Moraga says.
That darn remote!
One of your kids is playing a video game you gave him for Christmas and the gaming remote accidentally slips from his hand, smashing your television screen. Is this covered by your home insurance policy? The damage would be covered, but you want to consider if the value of the TV exceeds the threshold of the deductible. "Keep in mind that many homeowners keep a deductible of $1,000 and more. Thus, if the TV is worth close to $1,000, it would not be prudent to file a claim. However, if the homeowner's TV is worth a lot more, a claim could be filed and it would be paid out, minus the deductible, if the remote accidentally flies out of someone's hand and breaks it," says Moraga.
Faulty wiring on outside lights
If you hang holiday lights on the outside of your house and a fire starts because you have faulty wiring, you can make a claim on your homeowners insurance, Moraga says.
Say your Christmas tree gets knocked over and all your decorations are damaged. Does homeowners insurance cover this incident? Yes. But, again, you'd want to be sure the value exceeds your deductible before filing a claim.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.
Follow him on Twitter @destoups