Allstate Poll Reveals Spike in Property Claims During the Holidays

November 23, 2015

By the time the turkeys, pumpkin pies and cranberries are devoured and the calendar flips from November to December, 75 percent of Americans will have already started checking items off their shopping lists, according to a new poll released by Allstate. What many are not checking off, though, are simple steps to protect their homes – Allstate claims data shows many types of fire, theft and weather property claims increase during the holiday season.Thanksgiving dinner

The third annual Allstate Holiday Home Hazards poll revealed risky behaviors, such as leaving packages in the open, leaving doors unlocked, or falling asleep with the stove on, a candle lit or a fire still roaring. Despite 71 percent of adults acknowledging the increased risk of in-home incidents, just 37 percent take extra care to protect themselves. The poll also found many do not heed safety warnings while decorating the home.

“Shopping season is in full swing, and it’s easy to let holiday cheer cloud our better judgment when buying and handling our purchases,” said Terri Dalenta, senior vice president of property products at Allstate. “Between gifts, decorations, big family meals, traveling and other activities, Americans can spend quite a bit of money during the holidays. Allstate’s goal is to help customers and consumers protect what matters most and stay safe, happy and healthy while enjoying a hazard-free holiday season.”

Presents of Mind

Despite 84 percent of adults planning to spend money on gifts this holiday season – including a quarter (27 percent) who say they expect to spend more than last year – many do not take the necessary precautions to keep their holiday purchases out of harm’s way:

  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of adults admitted to having valuables delivered to their home while they’re not there.
  • Six-in-10 (60 percent) have stored or hidden valuables in their car.
  • Eight percent have experienced theft of packages, 6 percent have experienced car break-ins and 4 percent have had their home broken into during the holidays.
  • One-third (33 percent) of adults will be shipping a gift this year, but only about half (52 percent) of those gift-givers will notify the recipient that a gift is en route.

Curbing some of consumers’ risky gifting behaviors may help put a damper on some of the most common holiday claims:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claim Median Cost of Claim Increase During Holidays
Homeowners $132,000 $3,258 11%
Condo $18,494 $2,011
Renters $102,000 $2,323
Theft of Silverware/Flatware
Homeowners $11,798 $2,500 23%
Condo $7,171 $4,087
Renters $7,805 $2,364
Property Stolen from Vehicle
Homeowners $80,000 $2,188 17%
Condo $22,782 $886
Renters $18,706 $1,745
Chestnuts, Open Fires and Dangerous Décor

Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) will spend money on decorations this holiday season, with 21 percent of those individuals expecting to spend more money than last year. Many people, however, admit safety is not always top of mind when it comes to decking their halls:

  • More than half (53 percent) of adults admit they have plugged too many lights into one outlet.
  • Four-in-10 (40 percent) say they have slipped or fallen in a holiday-related activity, such as decorating.
  • Twenty-nine percent have left a real Christmas tree without water for more than three days, increasing the risk of fire.
  • More than a quarter of people (28 percent) have left the house and/or fallen asleep with candles burning. And about a quarter (24 percent) said they have done the same with a fire burning in the fireplace.
  • Of the people who own a fireplace, just over a quarter (28 percent of wood-fireplace owners and 26 percent of gas-fireplace owners) have cleaned or inspected their fireplaces in the past year.

There’s a distinct trend with decoration-related holiday home hazards: fire. Some of the most prevalent hazards, according to Allstate’s claims data:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claim Median Cost of Claim Increase During Holidays
Fire Originated From Fireplace
Homeowners $1,596,013 $10,324 196%
Condo $154,761 $13,222
Renters $34,798 $13,847
Burning Candles Caused Fire
Homeowners $349,536 $14,038 63%
Condo $70,665 $4,241
Renters $38,511 $2,447
Electrical Fire
Homeowners $1,059,926 $24,462 21%
Condo $138,225 $6,304
Renters $98,127 $15,010
Smoke From Fireplace
Homeowners $93,772 $11,262 191%
Condo $19,197 $3,939
Renters $32,782 $4,564
Table-stakes for “Tablescapes”

Cooking and entertaining are staples of the holiday season, and Americans are willing to splurge to create the perfect holiday spread – the poll revealed the most important consideration while shopping for that crowd-pleasing dinner is the quality of the ingredients. But as hungry families around the country wait for holiday hams to roast, 87 percent of cooks say they’re multitasking – which can prove to be a recipe for disaster:

  • More than half (58 percent) listen to music while cooking.
  • Forty-three percent cook multiple dishes at the same time.
  • About the same number (42 percent) watch TV or a movie while cooking.
  • Almost a third (32 percent) of people have left the house or fallen asleep while the stove was on.
  • Nine percent said a cooking mishap has previously resulted in smoke or fire.

Most people are aware of the risks associated with cooking and hosting a get-together. Even so, there is still work to be done on the prevention front, as evidenced by the claims data:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claim Median Cost of Claim Increase During Holidays
Kitchen Fire (Non-Grease)
Homeowners $953,714 $12,145 10%
Condo $117,871 $6,561
Renters $73,010 $4,609
Wood or Coal Stove Fire
Homeowners $760,432 $14,545 160%
Condo N/A N/A
Renters $26,349 $13,584
Smoke Damage From Kitchen
Homeowners $87,761 $8,482 16%
Condo $47,615 $6,562
Renters $26,747 $3,834
Fire Caused By Electrical Appliance
Homeowners $483,507 $19,208 10%
Condo $147,672 $4,455
Renters $53,090 $7,198
Travel Trip-Ups

One of the priciest purchases for many this season will be holiday travel. Sixty percent of Americans plan to spend at least one night away from home this year, with four-in-10 (41 percent) travelers planning to spend more on travel than last year. The poll revealed some risky behaviors that could contribute to home losses while away:

  • Half of Americans have left a door unlocked for a friend or family member. About the same amount (52 percent) have hidden a key for a friend or family member.
  • More than a third (35 percent) of adults say they have posted about travel plans on social media, including 58 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • Less than a quarter (23 percent) frequently set a timer for lights in their houses while traveling.
  • Only 17 percent frequently shut off the water in their homes to prevent leaks or floods, and just 16 percent frequently leave a faucet dripping to prevent freezing pipes while traveling.

The holidays are busy enough as is, but when travel is thrown in, things can get even more hectic. Allstate claims data reveals upticks from colder temperatures that could wreak more havoc:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claim Median Cost of Claim Increase During Holidays
Burst Pipes From Freezing
Homeowners $1,004,968 $5,833 722%
Condo $382,510 $4,445
Renters $66,943 $2,596
Damage From Ice Dam Build-up
Homeowners $209,870 $1,832 23%
Condo $13,071 $1,895
Renters $34,582 $920
Missing Property From Garage
Homeowners $5,919 $1,848 51%
Condo N/A N/A
Renters $2,684 $1,711
Property Damage From Weight of Snow/Ice On Roof
Homeowners $318,778 $1,886 64%
Condo $6,743 $2,206
Renters $15,609 $653
Survey Methodology

The survey of 1,001 American adults age 18+ was conducted Oct. 12 to Oct. 15 via an online survey using a sample reflective of the American population. The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting, Inc. (FTI) for Allstate.

Source: Allstate

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