With so much hustle and bustle during the Christmas season, it’s easy to get caught up in the magic and let your guard down. Even though there’s plenty of warmth and good cheer to enjoy, there are also plenty of risks during the holidays that you might not anticipate. At Nicol Insurance, we want to make sure you have fun AND stay safe, which is why we’ve created a list of tips to help you survive the most wonderful time of the year. After all, we’re here to help protect you, your loved ones and your property from the unforeseen.
1) You’ll be Home for Christmas if your car is prepared.
Winter weather can change from pleasant to miserable in a short amount of time, so before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is ready for what could lay ahead. That includes packing a roadside emergency kit with pylons, blankets, water, food, salt and flares. It’s also wise to invest in a portable battery charger for your phone, on the off chance you’re stuck for a long period of time. If you don’t have winter tires yet, give yourself a gift and have them installed straight away; you may even be eligible for a discount on your insurance rates.
2) Avoid a “Home Alone” situation.
If you’re planning on escaping the snow this winter, there’s plenty of preparation your home and property will need before you leave. Don’t forget, there is plenty of criminal activity during the holidays, and an empty house is an easy target. If you don’t have a house-sitter, it’s wise to put your lights on timers to make it look like someone is home at night. You can also have a friend or family member check your home routinely to keep up appearances. For peace of mind, you may also want to consider a security camera that you can check remotely. Finally, don’t broadcast your vacation plans on social media until you have returned from your trip, unless you want to give potential thieves a heads-up that your home will be empty.
3) It’s beginning to look a lot like Phish-mas.
The internet has made it easy to order the perfect Christmas gifts from the comfort of home, but plenty of dangers are bundled in. There are many illegitimate sites and phishing emails out there, but the Christmas season brings in an extra surge of scamming activity. Be very wary of suspicious emails, and make sure any site you order gifts from is one that you trust. There’s a lot of your personal information at risk, especially when using credit cards online.
4) Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold. Ensure you insure all your silver and gold.
If you’re planning to buy any expensive gifts this season, you may want to consider extra insurance. Remember, even though that necklace or watch is a gift for someone else, it falls under YOUR personal property coverage until it is in their hands. That means if it’s stolen before Christmas, your insurance policy will cover it, if you’re covered for the loss at all. To be sure, call your Nicol Insurance broker! We’ll review your home insurance policy to make sure your big-ticket gifts are covered; extending limits or adding temporary coverage if needed.
5) Don’t let a Grinch steal your Christmas
With so many packages being delivered this time of year, it’s important to keep a sharp eye out for Porch Pirates. There will always be opportunists who steal from doorsteps, but they will be working in full force during the busy holiday season. If you know a package is on its way, track it closely so you can anticipate its arrival. You may also want to invest in a front door camera so that you can be sure when thieves strike. Additionally, if you’re out doing your Christmas shopping, it’s wise to cover up unattended gifts or leave them in the trunk of your vehicle. If a potential thief sees gift bags and packages in your car, it’s much more likely they’ll try to break in.
6) O Christmas Tree, how dried out are your branches?
One of the leading causes of home property damage during the Christmas season is Christmas tree fires. If you don’t keep your Christmas tree properly watered, the branches will dry out quickly, and one spark from a nearby fireplace or faulty light could spell disaster. We always recommend keeping it watered and away from open flame, but you may just want to buy an artificial tree instead. There are plenty of realistic-looking styles and models available and some come with lights already hung on the tree.
7) Careful with those extension cords, Mr. Griswold.
Christmas lights are very pretty, and it can be a lot of fun to put an intricate display together, but the more extension cords you use, the higher the risk of an electrical surge or a fire. First, make sure that all your extension cords are rated for outdoor use. Then, check all the strings of lights for any damage or exposed wires before you put them up, and be careful on the ladder when you are installing them.
8) Don’t Nog and Drive.
This tip is simple, but vitally important; always plan for a safe ride home if you’re going to be enjoying any alcoholic beverages. There’s a reason there is a surge in collisions this time of year; snow and ice on the roads plus alcohol in your system is a deadly combination. Never start the engine unless you are 100% sober, and that includes any drowsing medications or cannabis products.
9) Up on the rooftop, snow won’t pause.
During this busy time of year, it’s easy to forget to clear all the snow off the roof of your vehicle before you drive. It may seem like a harmless shortcut to you, but that rooftop snow is dangerous. It could fly into the face of vehicles trailing behind you, reducing their visibility, or it could slide forward when you brake, leaving you suddenly blind. Either way, it’s foolish to drive without clearing off the snow first, especially considering you may get a ticket for not complying with the law.
10) Have yourself a little extra travel time.
With many distracted people rushing around on snow-covered and slippery roads, accidents are much more likely during the Christmas season. We know, there’s a lot on your mind and plenty to get done, but it’s important to slow down and be careful. It is wise to give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes of travel time regardless of your destination. That way, you’ll have plenty of time for slower, safer driving.
11) Snow should be falling, not your guests.
Slippery surfaces are not just a concern for vehicles; your front porch and walkway can turn into a skating rink without proper maintenance. That means anyone visiting your home could slip, fall and injure themselves. If that happens, it’s YOUR liability insurance that covers their injuries. Do yourself and everyone a favour; sand or salt your porch and walkway regularly. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and it could save you from having those once-cheery Christmas carolers sing a different tune.
12) Jingle bells, pets are swell, but make sure they’re okay.
Pets love the Christmas season just as much as any kid. All the guests, activity, sights, smells and excitement of the holidays can be enough to push any well-behaved pet into acting a little crazy. Take extra time to be sure your pets are feeling safe, comfortable and calm, especially if you have a lot of company on the way. An agitated animal could accidently get tangled up in lights or decorations, which could pull down your tree or start a fire. Worse, an over-stimulated animal could behave too aggressively around your guests. Make sure everyone has a fun Christmas and give your pets a calm space full of love and attention.
This is also a good opportunity to remind you that you should NEVER give someone a pet for Christmas unless you are absolutely sure they are ready for the responsibility. Many pets purchased as gifts end up being returned or abandoned because their new owner was ill-prepared to adopt them.
The best gift you can give your family and friends is a safe, happy Christmas season, so be sure to keep these tips in mind! But the best piece of advice we can give you is to call us when you need us. If you’re ever unsure of what your insurance covers, or what to do to avoid insurance risks, your Nicol broker is here to keep you informed. Give us a call at least once a season, and give yourself the ultimate gift; peace of mind.
Merry Christmas from Nicol Insurance!