Sweaters Aren't the Only Things That Can Get Ugly During the Holidays

New Allstate Poll Reveals Americans Hosting Parties are Aware of Holiday Home Hazards Yet Don't Prepare

Dec 02, 2014, 00:05 ET from Allstate

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Dec. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Holiday "ugly" sweaters have grown in popularity across the nation and will likely make an appearance with the 83 percent of Americans who plan to party this season. A new Allstate poll indicates 54 percent of Americans will host holiday parties in their homes, and the large majority who attend parties say they take place at someone else's home. While the nation celebrates, Allstate provides reminders of historical holiday home hazard outcomes, such as kitchen fires, decorative fires and theft, and helpful hints for customers and consumers who host parties this season.

"This time of the year is especially festive and celebratory for Americans, but we often forget to take precautions to secure our valuables and homes from potential hazards when hosting parties," said Laurie Pellouchoud, vice president of product operations, homeowners line management, for Allstate. "Taking a few extra steps before the next 'ugly sweater' party or other holiday get-together could protect your family and friends from costly mishaps during the holiday season."      

Allstate's Holiday Home Hazards poll found the vast majority (91 percent) of Americans agree they can reduce risks associated to fires, accidents or theft during the holiday season through their own attention and action. And more than half of Americans guessed correctly that fire (12 percent claims increase)ii and theft (5 percent claims increase)ii risks are higher during the holiday seasoni. Still, a majority (62 percent or more) say they aren't paying any more attention to these risks which could result in trouble during a busy time of cooking, decorating and hosting a holiday gathering.

Hosting Hazards:
Hosts should be aware that the likelihood of theft can increase over the holidays. It's wise to protect against unfortunate disappearances of valuables.

  • Just one in five (22 percent) say they put away valuables before hosting a party.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) say they have left a door unlocked for a friend or family member.
  • Forty-six percent say they have hidden a key to their home for a friend or family member. Hiding keys leaves the home too easily accessible for burglaries
  • Nearly half (48 percent) say they've hidden valuables such as gifts in their car. Leaving valuables in a car can create an enticing opportunity for thieves to break-in.
  • Seventeen percent of Americans say they've experienced a stolen or missing valuable when attending a holiday party

Protecting valuables is especially important during the holiday season given some of the most common precious items are also small in size and could go unnoticed:

Missing Jewelry Theft Claimsii

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$26,000

$1,500

Condo

$11,000

Renters

$25,000

Burglaries

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$125,00

$3,000

Condo

$34,000

Renters

$81,000

Property Missing After a Party

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$6,000

$1,500

Condo

$29,000

Renters

$6,000

Hasty Hors d'oeuvres
Food is the centerpiece of many holiday gatherings as hosts prepare decadent spreads for their guests, but remaining diligent in the kitchen will help prevent mishaps.

  • Eighty-seven percent of holiday party hosts plan to do "lots of cooking" to prepare for their gatherings.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of survey respondents have left a stove or oven unattended during the holiday season. Unattended cooking could become dangerous without the host knowing.
  • Another 44 percent of Americans don't keep fire extinguishers in their home to put out a fire when it erupts.
  • More than a quarter of Americans have hosted or attended a party that resulted in a burnt or ruined meal.

Allstate claims data shows hasty cooking during the holiday season is among factors that could lead to unfortunate outcomes for homeowners, condo owners, and renters:

Kitchen Fires (non-grease)ii

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$762,000

$10,000

Condo

$118,000

Renters

$349,000

Grease Fires

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$614,000

$13,000

Condo

$65,000

Renters

$43,000

Kitchen Smoke Damage Claims

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$140,000

$7,000

Condo

$43,000

Renters

$27,000

Deck the Halls:
Hosting a holiday party often comes with festive home touches. Make sure to take proper safety precautions to avoid potentially costly and dangerous outcomes.

  • In fact, about one-third (31 percent) of Americans light candles and one in five will light a fire in their fireplace (21 percent) during a holiday party hosted at their home.
  • More than half (53 percent) say they haven't checked or changed their smoke detectors recently. Unchecked smoke detectors can cause people to miss important alarms when fire breaks out in a home.
  • Forty-four percent of Americans with gas fireplaces haven't had it inspected within the last three years. Faulty gas lines and fireplace build-up can cause dangerous outcomes.
  • Forty-three percent of Americans admit to plugging in too many lights into one outlet. This can lead to electrical malfunctions and even fires.
  • About one-third (34 percent) have left candles and 17 percent have left fires unattended.

Allstate data indicates fires due to candles, fireplace and electrical mishaps are often significant losses:

Candle Firesii

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$515,000

$9,000

Condo

$55,000

Renters

$71,000

Fireplace Fires

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$1,600,000

$9,000

Condo

$66,000

Renters

$35,000

Electrical Fires

Insurance Policy Type

Most Costly Claim

Median Cost of Claim

Homeowners

$2,440,000

$18,000

Condo

$149,000

Renters

$72,000

Helpful Hints:
Advance planning and precaution can help protect your home and help make your holidays hazard-free. Allstate offers these tips to secure your home during the holidays:

Holiday Cooking

  • Before the holidays, install new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that family members can locate and operate fire extinguishers. Test all fire prevention devices to make sure they function properly.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. The incorrect disposal of cooking grease, overuse of garbage disposals and improper or excessive disposal of waste can result in clogged drains and can cause sewer problems during this time of year.

Holiday Decorating

  • Never leave burning candles unattended, and always place them out of reach of children. Make it a part of your routine to check that all candles are extinguished before you go to bed each night.
  • Make a smart tree purchase. If buying a natural tree, make sure it's fresh so it will be less of a fire hazard. Artificial trees should be labeled as fire resistant. Keep your tree away from heat sources, and trim trees with flame‐resistant materials. Never use lit candles to decorate trees.
  • Check your holiday lights, throwing away any that are broken and don't overload the outlets. Only lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use should be used outside.

Holiday Security

  • When shopping, don't leave purchases in the passenger compartment of your unattended vehicle. Store them out of sight, in the trunk.
  • When in plain view, gifts and valuables serve as an invitation to thieves. Close the shades or drapes if you're away. And put your valuables away before hosting people at your home.
  • Don't advertise shopping trips or gift purchases on social media. Whether it's "check-ins" using geo-location services, travel plan updates, or even photos uploaded while at a holiday party, people may be unknowingly giving today's "digital thieves" greater insight into the contents of your car's trunk, times you're away from home and even the holiday gifts hiding in your closet.

See how holiday hazards can hit close to home and get more tips by visiting Allstate's Holiday Decorator, at www.allstate.com/holidaydecorator.

Survey Methodology
The survey of 1,036 American adults age 18+ was conducted November 2-5, 2014 via an online survey using a sample reflective of the American population. The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting, Inc. (FTI) for Allstate.

About Allstate
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, protecting approximately 16 million households from life's uncertainties through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names and Allstate Financial business segment. Allstate is widely known through the slogan "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®." The Allstate brand's network of small businesses offers auto, home, life and retirement products and services to customers in the United States and Canada. In 2013, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate, its employees and agency owners gave $29 million to support local communities. Allstate employees and agency owners donated 200,000 hours of service across the country.

[i] Percentage increase in claims during the holiday season versus non-holiday season over a three-year period, November 15 through January 15, 2011-2014.
[ii] Based on Allstate claims data that was analyzed over the same three-year period, November 15 through January 15, 2011-2014.

 

 

 

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