Does Your Homeowners Policy Protect You From Halloween Horrors?

Posted in: Personal Insurance

On Halloween, you probably expect spooky sights like ghosts and goblins — but there are additional, unexpected risks that can make this holiday even scarier.  

Despite the many urban legends of poisoned candy, the most prominent Halloween danger centers around automobiles: twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year. However, Safe Kids Worldwide has noted that while a large majority of parents have safety concerns around Halloween, few actually take the time to talk to their kids about it.

So before your superheroes, pirates, and princesses head out, remind them to:

  • Use sidewalks and crosswalks, and pay attention when crossing the street
  • Take off masks when crossing the street (so they can see where they’re going)
  • Don’t run in or into the street
  • Carry flashlights and/or glow sticks to make them more visible to drivers
  • Decorate costumes with reflective tape or stickers and wear light colors

While your children’s safety is an obvious concern on Halloween, there’s another side to safety to consider during this nighttime holiday, too: your own liability in the event of an accident at home or on the road, which can lead to third party claims and lawsuits.

Avoid a Halloween nightmare

While driving: Simply put, slow down and watch out, especially in residential areas — you don’t want to be the driver in one of those all-too-common accidents. You should never look at your phone while driving, but on this holiday, it’s especially important to keep your eyes on the road.

At home, outdoors: If you are expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters, clear your property of tripping hazards such as extension cords, holes in the sidewalk, or decorations that are hard to see in dark. Also turn on outdoor lighting, so kids can see where they’re going, especially around your walkways and entrances.

At home, indoors: If you are planning to set up your yard or garage as a haunted house, ensure walkways are clear of tripping hazards such as wires, pumpkins, and throw rugs. Also, be sure exits are clearly lit and well-marked, and resist the urge to advertise or charge admission; that could be considered a business activity, which would require insurance coverage beyond your normal homeowners policy.

Serving alcohol: Planning a costumed ball at your house? You should probably brush up on what’s called “social host liability.” Many homeowners policies include some liability coverage for this issue, but the extent of the coverage is often relatively limited. Laws for criminal and civil liability on this issue vary by state, so talk with your agent before ordering that keg.

A few more points to consider in the days leading up to All Hallows’ Eve:

  • Supervise pumpkin carving.
  • Keep pets indoors where they cannot cause an accident or bite visitors.
  • Consider fire safety. Use battery-powered lights instead of real candles in jack-o-lanterns, and don’t leave candles or matches in areas where children can reach. Make sure electronic decorations are up to UL safety standards, and test your smoke alarms.
  • Watch out for vandalism. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, Halloween is the biggest day of the year for insurance claims related to vehicle vandalism. Park in a well-lit area or inside your garage.

Pieces of candy for the kids, peace of mind for you

Most homeowners insurance policies include some level of coverage against vandalism, fire, and liability for someone getting injured on your property. Give yourself some peace of mind this Halloween and speak with your insurance agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage.

Need help with your personal risk management or would like to learn more about how to protect against Halloween horrors, contact me at EAzwalinsky@psafinancial.com.

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