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Celebrations of the Season Open the Door to Holiday Hazards for Homeowners
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Celebrations of the Season Open the Door to Holiday Hazards for Homeowners

New Allstate poll shows first-time homeowners are often slightly better prepared
for holiday home hazards, but everyone should do more

Poll also uncovers risky social media behavior that can lead to home hazards

Holiday Home

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Dec. 8, 2016 – Festive, joyful and togetherness are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about the holidays. However, a new Allstate poll – released just in time for the 2016 holiday season – shows “hazardous” should be at the top of the list, too.

Allstate’s fourth annual national holiday home hazards survey[i] also reveals first-time homeowners are often slightly ahead of their more experienced counterparts, as well as renters, when it comes to preparing their homes for potential holiday hazards. Still, each group has room for improvement, especially since more than half of adults say their home is one of their most important possessions.

“It’s easy for people to get so wrapped up in decorating, cooking and making other holiday preparations that they forget to take important precautions,” said Steve Sorenson, Allstate’s executive vice president of product operations. “We urge you to prepare your home for the holidays now, so you can safely enjoy the season with the people most important to you.”

 Deck the Halls to Prevent Hazards
First-time homeowners are particularly excited about showing off their new homes, as nearly 90 percent expect to host holiday celebrations, compared to 62 percent of experienced homeowners and fewer than half of renters. A few precautionary measures can better protect the hosts and their guests. Allstate’s survey found:

  • Unalarmed about alarms. Just 56 percent of first-time homeowners, compared to only 47 percent of more experienced homeowners and 37 percent of renters, have tested or plan to test their smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide detectors to prepare their homes for the holidays.
  • Unaddressed home damage. Only 46 percent of first-time homeowners, compared to one-quarter of adults, have or plan to prepare for the holidays by inspecting and repairing their home interiors for leaks or damage. Likewise, 47 percent of first-time homeowners, compared to 23 percent of adults, have or plan to inspect and repair their home exteriors – including windows, roofs, gutters and chimneys.
  • Fearless about freezing. Only 56 percent of experienced homeowners and 44 percent of renters typically keep their homes heated above 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing, although this is common practice for 62 percent of first-time homeowners.
  • Circuit overload. Just 37 percent of first-time homeowners, 23 percent of experienced homeowners and 21 percent of renters usually limit the number of lights per outlet or power strip to prevent a live Christmas tree fire.
  • Too close for comfort. Placing their live tree away from heat sources to minimize fire risk also is more common among first-time homeowners. A total of 45 percent say they typically do this, compared to just over a quarter of adults.

Not taking proper precautions can lead to costly damage. Allstate claims data show the following are among the hazards that strike more often during the holiday season:

Increase During Holidays[ii] Most Costly Holiday Claim[iii] Median Cost of Holiday Claim

Burst Pipes From Freezing
396% $1,199,173 $5,500

Fireplace-Related Fires
133% $849,705 $10,149

Candle Fires
68% $388,381 $12,915

Electrical Fires
22% $1,067,456 $22,683

Weight of Ice and Snow
6% $338,694 $1,854


‘Tis the Season for Theft
Nearly 60 percent of consumers will do their holiday shopping online, with the majority taking advantage of free delivery, according to the National Retail Federation.[iv] Allowing those packages to be left out on the porch makes them easier to steal. More than 20 million Americans have had deliveries swiped from their doorsteps, according to a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.[v]

Allstate found that, when ordering items online or by telephone during the holiday season:

  • Packages for the taking. Nearly four in 10 homeowners – both first-time and experienced – frequently allow delivered packages to be left out on their porch or stoop. About three in 10 renters do the same.
  • Unsafe delivery. Only 41 percent of first-time homeowners often make sure someone will be home to accept the package, something that happens even less with more experienced homeowners and renters.
  • Work is not an alternative. Just 13 percent of first-time homeowners, compared to 10 percent of experienced homeowners and 9 percent of renters, frequently have packages delivered to them at work.

Holiday trips also may become holiday home hazards. While travelers take some precautions before departing, they may also leave behind opportunities for theft:

  • Nobody home. Just 16 percent of first-time homeowners, 17 percent of renters and 27 percent of experienced homeowners say they plan to stop their mail and/or newspaper delivery before taking a holiday trip.
  • Unlocked homes. Eighty-one percent of first-time homeowners, compared to 80 percent of renters and 77 percent of experienced homeowners, plan to ensure all of their doors and windows are locked before they leave on a holiday trip.
  • Unlocked vehicles. Nearly 70 percent of first-time homeowners, but only 59 percent of experienced homeowners and 45 percent of renters, say they will make sure vehicles left in their driveway or garage are locked.

Think no one will notice you’re not home? Think again – and don’t risk making your home and valuables easy targets, especially since Allstate found the following happens more frequently during the holidays:

Increase During Holidays Most Costly Holiday Claim Median Cost of Holiday Claim

Missing Property from Garage
37% $5,919 $1,697

Burglary
6% $153,505 $2,911

Theft From Unlocked Vehicle
2% $24,002 $1,177


Social Media Oversharing
Social media also can unlock opportunities for holiday home hazards. First-time homeowners – about three-quarters of those surveyed are millennials – are more likely to take risks on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other popular sites over the holidays.

Forty percent of first-time homeowners spend more time on social media during the holiday season, compared to the rest of the year. This is the case for only a quarter of experienced homeowners and 24 percent of renters. Those who post may provide very personal details:

  • Look at me! Seventy-one percent of first-time homeowners say they’re likely to go on social media to share pictures or video of themselves at their holiday travel destinations, compared to half of renters and 44 percent of experienced homeowners.
  • On the road again. About a third of first-time homeowners say they’re likely to share details about their travel itinerary, such as being at the airport or on their way home – information that only 22 percent of renters and 19 percent of experienced homeowners say they’re likely to share.
  • Showing off presents. And 65 percent of first-time homeowners, versus 38 percent of adults, say they’ll probably post presents they received.

Oversharing on social media can send a message to criminals that a home may be unoccupied – information holiday travelers should keep confidential. Allstate found:

Increase During Holidays Most Costly Holiday Claim Median Cost of Holiday Claim

Theft of Silverware, Flatware
64% $15,462 $3,216

Theft from Locked Vehicle
7% $35,021 $1,408

Jewelry Missing From Home
5% $25,000 $1,712


Allstate’s Top 10 Tips for Holiday Home Safety
To help make the holidays festive, joyful and safe, visit Allstate’s Holiday Decorator for a fun, interactive lesson on how to avoid disasters that can come with decking out your home. Other tips to protect against potential holiday hazards include:

  1. Install new batteries in and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  2. Inspect the inside and outside of your home for leaks or other needed repairs to avoid home damage and insurance claims.
  3. To prevent frozen pipes, keep your home heated above 65 degrees and open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
  4. Have chimneys and furnaces inspected annually before the holidays to make sure they’re safe for use.
  5. Read the fine print on your holiday lights to avoid overloading outlets or power strips, and when lighting up the outside of your home, only use lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use.
  6. Schedule deliveries for when someone will be home – or have packages delivered to a neighbor or friend who is home during the day.
  7. Routinely lock your home and vehicle, even if you’re only leaving for a short time.
  8. Stop mail and newspaper deliveries during holiday travel, or have a friend or neighbor pick them up daily.
  9. Avoid “checking in” to vacation locations or activities on social media.
  10. Wait until you return home to post photos and/or video of your holiday trip, and ask family and friends not to tag you on vacation photos they post while you’re away.

For more home safety tips and information, visit The Allstate Blog. Also, Mayhem, a familiar face in Allstate ads, is getting into the holiday spirit with the release of his original holiday album “A Very Mayhem Holiday.” The album will feature seven original holiday songs and will be available to enjoy at MayhemCarols.com or www.pandora.com/AllstateMayhemCarols.

About Allstate
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, protecting approximately 16 million households from life’s uncertainties through auto, home, life and other insurance offered through its Allstate, Esurance, Encompass and Answer Financial brand names. Now celebrating its 85th anniversary as an insurer, Allstate is widely known through the slogan “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®.” Allstate agencies are in virtually every local community in America. In 2015, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate, its employees and agency owners gave $36 million to support local communities.

[i] The 2016 Allstate Holiday Home Hazards survey was conducted by FTI Consulting from October 6-16, 2016. The survey was conducted among N=1,015 adults (home/condo owners and renters) and an oversample of N=224 first-time home or condo owners who purchased their very first home in the past year.

[ii] Percentage change based on holiday season versus non-holiday season homeowners, condo and renters claim frequency nationally during the three-year period of Jan. 15, 2013-Jan. 15, 2016, with the holiday season from Nov. 15-Jan. 15.

[iii] Costs are the amount Allstate paid on the reported claims, based on national holiday season homeowners, condo and renters claims data over three years, with the holiday season from Nov. 15-Jan. 15, 2013-2016.

 [iv] National Retail Federation, https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/retailers-prepare-post-election-holiday-shopping

[v] InsuranceQuotes.com, http://www.insurancequotes.com/home/holiday-hazards-120215