On December 14, 2016

Theft from locked vehicle claims increase 232 percent in Vermont during holiday season, report finds

Festive, joyful and togetherness are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about the holidays. However, a new national Allstate poll – released Dec. 8, just in time for the 2016 holiday season – shows “hazardous” should be at the top of the list, too.
Allstate’s fourth annual national holiday home hazards survey also reveals first-time homeowners are often slightly ahead of their more experienced counterparts, as well as renters, when it comes to preparing their homes for potential holiday hazards. Still, each group has room for improvement, especially since more than half of adults say their home is one of their most important possessions.
When it comes to Vermont, the report shows the following hazards have the largest spikes during the holiday season:
Theft from locked vehicle claims increase by 232 percent
Weight of ice and snow claims increase by 107 percent
Burst pipes from freezing claims increase by 89 percent
“With so much focus on shopping, decorating, making holiday meals and other preparations, people may overlook simple, but important safety steps to protect their homes,” said Bill Vien, agency owner in Rutland. “Now is a great time to make sure your home is safe and secure, so you can enjoy a hazard-free holiday with friends and loved ones.”
Not taking proper precautions can lead to costly damage. Allstate claims data show the following are among the hazards that strike more often during the holiday season:
Burst pipes from freezing have cost past Vermont homeowners as much as $1,199,173 with the median claim costing $5,500.
Fireplace-related fires have cost past Vermont homeowners as much as $849,705 with the median claim costing $10,149.
Candle fires have cost past Vermont homeowners as much as $388,381 with the median claim costing $12,915.
Electrical fires have cost past Vermont homeowners as much as $1,067,456 with the median claim costing $22,683.
Weight of ice and snow have cost past Vermont homeowners as much as $338,694 with the median claim costing $1,854.
‘Tis the season for theft
Nearly 60 percent of consumers will do their holiday shopping online, with the majority taking advantage of free delivery, according to the National Retail Federation. Allowing those packages to be left out on the porch makes them easier to steal. More than 20 million Americans have had deliveries swiped from their doorsteps, according to a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
Holiday trips also may become holiday home hazards. While travelers take some precautions before departing, they may also leave behind opportunities for theft:
Nobody home. Just 16 percent of first-time homeowners, 17 percent of renters and 27 percent of experienced homeowners say they plan to stop their mail and/or newspaper delivery before taking a holiday trip.
Unlocked homes. The study found 81 percent of first-time homeowners, compared to 80 percent of renters and 77 percent of experienced homeowners, plan to ensure all of their doors and windows are locked before they leave on a holiday trip.
Unlocked vehicles. Nearly 70 percent of first-time homeowners, but only 59 percent of experienced homeowners and 45 percent of renters, say they will make sure vehicles left in their driveway or garage are locked.
Some of the largest increases in items stolen during the holidays include:
Theft of silverware, flatware increased 64 percent, with the most costly holiday claim at $15, 462 and the median claim at $3,216.
Theft from a locked vehicle increased 7 percent, with the most costly holiday claim at $35,021 and the median claim at $1,408.
Theft of jewelry from home increased 5 percent, with the most costly holiday claim at $25,000 and the median claim at $1,712.
Top 10 tips for holiday safety
1.    Install new batteries in and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
2.    Inspect the inside and outside of your home for leaks or other needed repairs to avoid home damage and insurance claims.
3.    To prevent frozen pipes, keep your home heated above 65 degrees and open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
4.    Have chimneys and furnaces inspected annually before the holidays to make sure they’re safe for use.
5.    Read the fine print on your holiday lights to avoid overloading outlets or power strips, and when lighting up the outside of your home, only use lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use.
6.    Schedule deliveries for when someone will be home – or have packages delivered to a neighbor or friend who is home during the day.
7.    Routinely lock your home and vehicle, even if you’re only leaving for a short time.
8.    Stop mail and newspaper deliveries during holiday travel, or have a friend or neighbor pick them up daily.
9.    Avoid “checking in” to vacation locations or activities on social media.
10.  Wait until you return home to post photos and/or video of your holiday trip, and ask family and friends not to tag you on vacation photos they post while you’re away.

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