Let’s look at some of the most common tricks that are pulled on policyholders over the holiday and ways you can safeguard your car and home this Halloween.
1. My dog bit a trick-or-treater! Halloween creates heavy traffic to your home and can be downright spooky for dogs. A scared dog is on higher alert than normal, and this could result in your furry friend taking a bite out of one of your costumed visitors.
It’s best for you, and your pet, to have them put away from the door when you know traffic will be high – such as Halloween night. They should be fine in a back room, away from the front door. If possible put some of their favorite toys and a treat back with them so they know they are not in trouble. We also recommend turning on the TV or a radio in the room your dog is in to help muffle the doorbell or noise and giggles of trick-or-treaters at the front door, which may stress them out.
Remember not to take this risk lightly. There were over 16,000 dog bite claims last year, making up more than one-third of all liability claims paid out homeowners insurance companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). They totaled almost $479 million, averaging nearly $29,400 paid out per claim. Every state has different rules about dog bites, homeowners policies typically cover the liability and medical expenses related to a dog bite, unless your dog or his breed is excluded from your policy.
2. Does my homeowners policy cover TP in the trees? Toilet paper typically doesn’t damage trees, most of the time it’s just paper blowing through the branches, so a claim isn’t necessary. For the most part, toilet paper is merely an annoyance that must be cleaned up in the morning.
However, there have been instances when a tree has been damaged during an act of vandalism. If this happens, your homeowners policies may cover this – check with your agent to be sure. If your tree does have damage from vandalism, avoid cutting down limbs or hauling away any debris until a claims adjuster is able to come out to take a look at the damage to the tree or your home.
3. My car was egged, am I covered? Vandalism is most likely covered by your car insurance policy if you have comprehensive coverage. Whether or not you should file a claim depends on the amount of damage versus the amount of your deductible. You may be able to remove egg with a simple car wash – though more extensive damage may occur depending on the severity of the vandalism.
In the last few years, we’ve seen claims increase for damage caused by paintballs, water balloons filled with paint or other liquids, and broken windshields with pumpkins thrown through them. If you see severe damage, dents, or your paint eaten away, then a claim may be justifiable.
Your best bet to protect your vehicle is to park your car in the garage or another well-lit, covered area. If you do not have this option, even simply buying a tarp to cover your car can detour vandals.
The good news is that most neighborhoods are prepared for Halloween, and you and your neighbors can look out for each other and the rest of your neighbors. By working together, and helping others be vigilant about safeguarding your street from pranksters, your street will be unattractive to teens ready to egg cars or toilet-paper trees.