It’s holiday gift-giving time again. It’s also time to remember how to keep those gifts safe.
I’ll share three easy ways to reduce your risk of theft, and two easy ways to make sure your gifts are insured properly while they await their intended recipient.
Three ways to keep Santa’s gifts safe
1. Don’t store gifts in the car.
I know that I touched on this a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating.
Even with the increase in online shopping, you will likely still shop at a real store. You’ll probably use your car to get there.
If your car is broken into, your auto insurance may cover the cost of damage to your vehicle, but it won’t cover the cost of the items inside.
Make sure to not store gifts in your car. Bring them inside as soon as you get home.
2. Be ninja-elf sneaky during shopping trips.
If you are on a shopping expedition, you need ninja-like strategies to keep those gifts safe while you go from store to store.
First, make sure you don’t leave your newly purchased items in plain sight. Put them in the trunk or a locked glove box.
Second, don’t rely on blankets and coats to keep things hidden. Thieves will see the coverup as an invitation and break in to investigate.
Finally, here’s a cool trick. If you’re shopping at multiple stores in the same mall, and you bring items to your car between stores, move your car between trips. Thieves look for shoppers who drop off packages and go back inside the mall.
3. Keep your home looking occupied.
It gets dark earlier at this time of year in Napa. Thieves will watch for lights out.
When your home is dark, especially during the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s an invitation for “Bad Santa” to break in and look for gifts. They know that the gifts will be boxed and in new condition.
Two easy ways to help insure Santa’s gifts
Despite your best ninja-elf efforts, things happen. So be prepared in case of theft or loss.
1. Keep receipts and get appraisals.
You can’t properly insure what has disputable value. For most common gifts, like electronics, a receipt is usually an adequate way to prove value. Keep all receipts.
Some items, like jewelry, art, and collectibles, often need to be appraised to prove their value. Don’t neglect this step due to the busyness of the season.
2. Schedule coverage for expensive items.
Call your insurance agent as soon as you purchase expensive items, especially if they are jewelry, art, firearms, or collectibles.
Folks forget that there are often dollar limits of coverage on these types of items. These limits vary from company to company, and sometimes even from policy to policy.
Scheduled coverage (often called a “rider,” a “floater,” or an “endorsement”) can provide peace of mind. Often, “scheduling” an expensive item will eliminate deductibles, and extend coverage beyond just loss by theft or fire. It will also eliminate any surprises at claim time.
Talk to your agent this shopping season and let them help you insure your holiday gifts properly.
Do you have Thanksgiving insurance?
Of course you do! It’s called your homeowners or renters insurance.
Are you looking forward to next week’s food, family, friends and football? If so, make sure you answer these two questions before all the guests arrive:
Do you have adequate coverage for the holiday season? Have you thought about how to avoid common Thanksgiving claims?
The first question is best answered with a phone call to your agent.
I’ll help by providing a few things you should ask your agent. Then, I’ll talk about some commonly known, but often overlooked hazards that contribute to the spike in claims on holidays.
Do you have enough Thanksgiving “insurance?”
Of course, there’s no such thing as Thanksgiving insurance. But there are Thanksgiving-related claims each year that are covered by your homeowners or renters insurance.
Fires and liability claims increase during the holidays. We’re stringing small lights everywhere, lighting candles, and cooking with ovens and deep fryers… all with guests in our homes. That’s a recipe for accidents, and accidents need insurance coverage.
If you haven’t had an insurance review recently, talk to your agent, starting with these questions:
1. How much liability coverage do you have? Is it enough?
2. How much dwelling and other structures coverage do you have? Is that enough?
3. Medical payments to others — do you know your limits and what it’s for?
There are more things to cover, of course. But a quick phone call to review these three things may make a big difference if the unthinkable happens.
Do you have safety procedures in place?
It’s just better that we don’t have any claims this Thanksgiving, right?
Let’s recap a few safety tips. Refreshers are good. They can save lives and claims.
1. People risks
Too many cooks in the kitchen can cause mishaps, like accidental cuts, burns from the stove and boiling water injuries. Keep unnecessary people and pets out of the kitchen… especially the kids.
2. Property risks
Too many injuries happen because of broken pavement and broken handrails. This gets compounded by not enough lighting and slippery winter weather. Check out the dangers before company arrives.
3. Food risks
There are three biggies.
First, make sure you ask your guests about food allergies.
Second, cook all foods to proper temperature, and don’t leave leftovers out for too long.
Finally, watch out for underage drinking, or for that matter, too much drinking by any guest. You can be held responsible.
4. Accident risks
Wobbly chairs, unsecured tall furniture, and loose rugs on slippery hardwood floors… these all can be accidents waiting to happen for unsuspecting guests. An ounce of prevention … you know the rest.
And finally, my least favorite and most frightening accident, the frozen turkey in the deep fryer. Google this, and then don’t do it. Always follow all safety instructions when deep frying poultry.
I’m very thankful to have had the privilege to share my thoughts in this column for almost two years. Many of you have told me how much you appreciate the articles. Thank you and thank you to the wonderful team at the Napa Valley Register. May you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
It’s bad-weather season again, and that always reminds me of auto insurance claims. They’re never fun.
As much as I enjoy spending time talking with my customers, I’d rather be talking about happy things going on in your life, and not about a tragedy.
Of course, if you have a claim, call me. It’s what I’m here for.
But read and heed these five tips, and maybe we can reduce your chances of having a claim.
1. Car break-ins: Hide your stuff.
Every time you park your car in public, assume that someone will come by five minutes later looking for goodies you left behind.
Goodies like your laptop, your purse, or your recent purchase from another store.
Hide your stuff.
Hiding things in the trunk is a great idea, or under seats. Better yet, take expensive things with you and don’t leave them in your car at all.
The fringe benefit is a clean car, and that’s not bad either!
2. Parked car damage: Choose your parking like a pro.
Thinking of squeezing into that ridiculously tight spot because it’s closer?
Don’t do it.
Not everyone is as skilled a driver as you, and you may come back to find your car dented, and the other driver gone. They often don’t leave a note, so the claim is on you.
Another idea: clear out that second stall in your garage and use it for your car instead of storage.
Every car you can park off street is a car less likely to get damaged in the middle of the night.
3. Windshield damage: Count more car lengths.
We think of rocks hitting the windshield as “an act of God.”
We feel that it’s not our fault. And interestingly, so does the insurance company. That’s why it’s covered under the “Comprehensive” part of your policy.
But if you drive defensively, you can reduce the chances of this happening.
How? Be aware of what’s on the road.
If you are driving on a gravel road, or if there is debris on the road, stay even farther back than normal from the vehicle in front of you. Let gravity work for you.
Stay back, and let that rock the guy in front of you kicked up fall beneath your wheels instead of smashing into your windshield.
4. Rear-end collisions: Save that text for later.
Distracted driving may catch up with you some day. And that will be a bad day.
Whether it’s texting, or a phone call, or fumbling with the burger you just picked up from the drive-thru... distractions cause rear-end collisions.
Rear-end collisions are almost always preventable. Turn your phone off and deal with it after you stop.
Also, eat in a restaurant, not the driver’s seat. It’s safer, better for your digestion, and your pants will thank you for not dripping mustard on them
5. Back-up accidents: Look again and then look again.
Finally, start a new habit. Look before backing up.
I don’t mean glance in the mirror for a nano-second. I mean, turn your head around and take a good long look behind your vehicle before you put it in gear.
Then look again.
It’s often that second look that saves a claim... or a life.