How to avoid
claims and liabilities this Halloween
How to avoid
claims and liabilities this Halloween
10 second overview: Halloween season 2021 will see a return to normalcy as everyone, children, and adults alike, will be looking to make-up for fun, tricks and treats missed due to the pandemic in 2020. But it’s never all fun during Halloween as people often find themselves filing for claims and paying out liabilities resulting from damaged properties, injuries, and theft. Find out what you can do to avoid getting caught up in the deluge of claims and liabilities that often happen during spooky season.
The first post-covid Halloween season is likely to be bigger and more fun than in recent years with over 125 million trick-or-treating stops predicted in the US alone. From October 30 till November 1, there’ll be pranks to be played, treats to be had, and some serious cosplay to enjoy. Whether you’re hunting down candy, doling them out, wearing the costumes or watching all the excitement play out as fall weather kicks in, it’s clear no one will be left out of the fun.
Unfortunately, things have been known to get a bit hairy with claims and liabilities during Halloween season because there are so many ways for things to go wrong and they often do. Even the simplest pranks can leave people hurt and properties damaged. Spooky decor can catch fire and cause damage to property, or trip unsuspecting revelers, causing them to fall and sustain injuries. There’s also increased risk of traffic accidents, a predictable outcome of high pedestrian activity and increased drunk driving by reckless merrymakers.
What’s more, we usually see a serious uptick in criminal activity and vandalism during spooky season. In 2019, there was a record number of car thefts during Halloween and insurance companies often see a marked increase in homeowner claims as a result of crimes during this season.
The good news is there are a few things you can do to avoid an onslaught of claims and liabilities this Halloween. There are no silver bullets but with a few simple steps and precautions, you can make sure you don’t spend the day after Halloween filing insurance claims and counting costs.
Arguably, the most expensive claim or liability you could be faced with after Halloween is that of replacing a stolen car or stolen valuables. Insurance companies typically see an increase in claims resulting from theft on and off premises, and homes left dark and deserted during the 3-day fun of Halloween are very likely to be burglarized or vandalized.
To protect your car, keep it safely parked and locked away in your garage. It’s also important to make sure there are no items left in the car which could tempt a burglar for a closer look. Leaving a purse, laptop bag or shiny package visible in your car during spooky season could attract the wrong kind of attention.
And to protect you home, ensure it is well lit especially at night. If you’re not home, entrust the care of your property to a friend or neighbor who can keep an eye out for you. Even better, install a good security system that lets you monitor what’s happening in your house and compound even when you’re not home. It could be the difference between a successful break-in and a foiled attempt.
Injuries often happen during Halloween due to things like decor mishaps, the odd object left lying in the yard, poorly lit walkways, tight and uncomfortable costumes, and reckless merrymaking. It’s a combination of risks so potent that the likelihood of things going wrong is way too high to ignore. Now, while it’s true that your home insurance policy will probably cover injuries sustained by third parties on or around your property along with any related lawsuits, you certainly don’t want to sit around and let injuries happen.
To prevent injuries on your property, place bright lights around your home to make sure trick-or-treaters can make their way around easily at night. Also, have a clear plan for Halloween candy hunters. If you want to give candy, have a sign that guides trick-or-treaters to where they can get candy or where you’ll meet them to give out candy. If you don’t plan on giving out candy, then place a big sign in front that says so. That way, trick-or-treaters won’t be encouraged to come knocking.
Most importantly, check your environment and remove any potentially harmful objects. Anything that can injure a reveler or cause a pedestrian to stumble could put you at risk of major liability payouts.
Most domestic fire incidents during Halloween are often the result of spooky decor gone badly wrong. Candles in carved pumpkins have been known to cause many a fire this season and even electric lights can be a risk if not properly installed. You can drastically reduce the risk of a fire incident in your home by avoiding candles entirely. Try an LED or electric light instead as they are far safer than having untended live fires no matter how small. Also, ensure your lighting are connected safely. Don’t overload any outlets. Make sure your electric Halloween decor aren’t prone to heating up as this can cause a fire. Overloaded extension cords can also heat up and melt, causing a fire so be sure you have the right kind of extension and outlet for the electric decor you plan on putting up.
There’s usually heavy pedestrian traffic in most downtown and suburban neighborhoods during Halloween. So, you want to drive as carefully as possible because the data is pretty grim on how bad things can get.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that more pedestrians were killed on the nights of Halloween and November 1 than on any other nights between 2013 and 2017. The National Safety Council (NSC) also found that more children are struck and killed by cars during halloween than on any other day of the year.
To avoid any vehicle related injuries, drive safely and be extra cautious while driving. Anticipate pedestrian activity. Watch out for trick-or-treating children and revelers, and if possible, drive below the speed limit when in densely populated neighborhoods to improve your ability to react and course-correct if a pedestrian walks into your path. Also, just be a good citizen. Be the woman who stops and holds traffic so kids can cross the street safely. Encourage your neighborhood, suburb or apartment block to make proactive plans for a safe Halloween.
This one’s a no brainer but you’d be surprised to learn some people have gotten into trouble for handing out expired treats. Covid-19 adds another layer of risk as contaminated treats could spread the virus and put unvaccinated, elderly, and immunocompromised people at risk of infection. Remember that it is squarely your responsibility to make sure whatever you give to trick-or-treaters is safe to consume.
To avoid being held liable for expired, unsafe or contaminated treats, keep your Halloween favors simple. The stash of candies you’ve hoarded for months or longer is probably not safe to consume. Please discard them - better safe than sorry. Then, buy individually wrapped candies and keep your treats dry. Finally, give out treats without putting yourself or trick-or-treaters at risk.
Remember, Covid-19 is still a threat, and you should still have fun while maintaining safe distancing, avoiding unnecessary hand-to-hand contact, and wearing a mask when in doubt. Be mindful that we still need to protect the elderly and immunocompromised around us. With any luck and simple precautions like the ones mentioned here, we’ll have all the fun and no claims or liabilities to worry about.
Happy spooky season!