Itâ€™s the most wonderful time of the year â€” weeks of hustle and bustle, spending time with friends and family, giving and receiving, and eating to your heartâ€™s content. What can go wrong?
Well, a lot, actually. The holiday season is not only an opportune time for gift-giving, but it also serves up several opportunities for accidents and mishaps.
But even though much can go wrong, there is plenty you can do to protect yourself. Here weâ€™ll share some common holiday disasters and what you can do to avoid them.
You leave your favorite pine-scented candle a little too close to your Christmas tree or you plug in one too many strands of lights into an extension cord, and before you know it, you have a fire on your hands.
These, and other scenarios, lead to fires every year. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 1,000 home fires occur each holiday season due to Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and cooking.
Prevent it. Stephen Boccarossa, principal agent at Boccarossa Insurance in Milford, Conn., said consumers should take precautions when decorating for the season. â€śLED lights use a lot less wattage and wonâ€™t put stress on your wiring or cause a short or fire,â€ť he advised.
â€śIf youâ€™re going to burn a candle, put it where everyone is going to be and have it high on the mantle or on a countertop,â€ť he said. The NFPA offers handy winter holiday safety tips as well as Christmas tree safety tips.
Protect yourself. Now is an excellent time to review your homeowners or renters insurance policy to make sure the limits you have in place are adequate enough to replace your home and belongings should a loss occur.
Your dear Aunt Agnes is staying with you and slips and falls on your icy walkway. She lands in the hospital and is looking for someone to pick up the bill.
Having guests in your home during the season not only brings good cheer, but it also brings an increase in liability.
Prevent it. Make sure your home is guest-ready and safe. Take a walk around both the inside and outside of your property and correct or remove any potential dangers, especially if you live in a cold weather area.
â€śI recommend making sure that if you do have company, youâ€™ve cleared your driveway, walkways, and front steps,â€ť Boccarossa said. â€śIf you have Christmas lights outside, make sure your wires are hidden so [your guests] donâ€™t trip and fall.â€ť
Protect yourself. Review the liability and medical treatment coverage in your homeowners policy. Consider getting an umbrella policy for increased protection if you donâ€™t already have one in place.
Canceled flights and crowded airports make a great scene for a holiday movie, but they happen in real life all the time. And when they do, travel delays due to weather, technical issues, or even illness can derail your holiday plans.
Prevent it. Thereâ€™s nothing you can do about the weather, but you can reduce the chances of potential illness by eating well, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress in the days and weeks leading up to traveling.
Protect yourself. Know your airline or cruise lineâ€™s cancellation policy when booking your travel. CompareCards, also a LendingTree company, provides a comprehensive summary of the top domestic carriersâ€™ cancellation policies.
Check your credit cards too, as you may have some built-in protection when booking travel. Additionally, Boccarossa recommended purchasing trip cancellation insurance. â€śI would definitely consider it, especially in the winter,â€ť he said.
Thieves love the holiday season as much as you do Â â€” probably more. Between gifts stolen from your car to right off your porch, holiday theft is a common occurrence.
Prevent it. Do not leave big-ticket items like electronics or jewelry in your car. â€śHave a plan for your shopping,â€ť Boccarossa advised. â€śIf you know youâ€™re getting something important or expensive, plan so that itâ€™s the last thing you get before going home.â€ť
Similarly, plan to have gifts delivered to your place of employment, or schedule the delivery during a time youâ€™ll be at home.
Protect yourself. Homeowners or renters insurance policies typically cover stolen items, including belongings taken from your car. But keep in mind that you will need to meet the deductible before coverage kicks in â€” something consumers tend to forget, according to Boccarossa.
Also, be sure to file a police report in the event of theft. â€śIf your car is broken into, please call the police,â€ť Boccarossa advised. â€śIf you donâ€™t, the insurance company will question it and could use that against you in a future claim.â€ť
Again, the holidays are an opportune time for theft, and itâ€™s not limited to physical items. Having to deal with credit card fraud around this time will definitely drain the joy from the season.
Prevent it. Be vigilant when out shopping in stores. Thieves can get the number off your card just by glancing over your shoulder, snapping pictures with their phone, or by using a scanning device. If applying for credit cards in stores, avoid giving your details verbally â€” complete a written application instead.
When shopping online, only purchase from trusted sites. Consider using a credit card with a low balance to limit the extent of damage in the event your information is stolen.
Protect yourself. Your credit cards and debit cards provide you protection in the event of fraudulent purchases, but remember that in the case of a debit card, any theft or false charges will immediately affect your bank account balance.
Make sure you follow your bank or credit card companyâ€™s procedures for reporting fraudulent activity and address it right away.
While there are things that can go wrong during the holidays, donâ€™t let yourself get overwhelmed with stress. Instead, put these precautions in place to protect yourself and the ones you love, and make sure the holidays are safe and enjoyable for everyone.
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