These year-end weeks are a busy time that are focused on friends and family, and not when you want to be checking to confirm that your insurance coverage is adequate. But taking a few minutes between the cooking and the shopping and the wrapping to review your insurance policies and how they would cover potential seasonal situations that could arise might save you time and money in the long run.
With visitors coming and going, perhaps you’ll be asked to lend your vehicle to a relative. What are the insurance implications you should consider? If a family member borrows your car and has an accident, your policy should provide the same coverage as if you were driving, but the accident may affect your premium costs in the future. Always make sure you are permitting safe and responsible drivers to borrow your car. Conversely, if you have an accident while operating someone else’s car, that vehicle’s coverage should apply—if there is limited or no coverage, your policy should provide some coverage. Whether driving your car or someone else’s, always report accidents to your insurance agent or company and document damage with photos. Do not attempt repairs until you have consulted your agent or company.
If someone breaks your car window and steals gifts from the vehicle, your home insurance or car rental insurance should provide coverage—however, you may be responsible for a deductible. Again, speaking with your insurance agent or company right away is important.
If gifts or yard decorations are stolen or damaged, your standard home insurance policy provides some coverage, but there are likely limits on jewelry and electronics. Be diligent in securing your items and valuable pieces; consider collaborating with your neighbors to move delivery boxes from front doors or porches where they may be tempting to thieves. If you are buying or you receive expensive jewelry or electronics as gifts this year, consider notifying your insurance agent or company to determine if you need a rider to your home insurance policy for appropriate coverage.
Live candles are beautiful but can be dangerous. Ensure that they are fully extinguished at the end of a celebration or before you leave a room, and use care in disposing of matches used to light candles or the fireplace.
The holidays may bring guests to your home to celebrate. If someone slips and falls on your icy driveway, a standard home insurance policy can provide limited medical payments for necessary medical attention.
Winter will last long beyond the holiday season, and the snow or ice storms of January and beyond are no surprise to New Englanders. But when they result in downed power lines, the outcome is not pleasant. While the weather permits, make time to trim dead or overhanging branches and take precautionary measures to protect your home and assets from weather-related destruction. Home damage and tree removal may be covered by your home insurance policy, subject to deductibles and limits.
The Division of Insurance urges all consumers to “know what you have, learn what you need” when it comes to insurance. In the midst of preparing for this joyous season, a few minutes to review your protections will be time well spent. Happy new year!
Joseph Murphy is the Commisioner of Insurance for Massachusetts.