For many, dressing up on Halloween and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood is the highlight of the fall season. The holiday marks an opportunity for fun, family bonding, and of course, lots and lots of candy.
But given the popularity of the holiday, Halloween can quickly turn from the innocent notion of “trick or treat” into mean-spirited—and potentially harmful—tricks.
For home and automobile owners, taking proper precautions to protect their property can help reduce the chance of falling victim to some notorious and common Halloween pranks. Keeping areas well-lit, moving cars into the garage, and moving anything that could be vandalized or stolen out of sight are just some of the preventative measures homeowners can take to protect themselves and their properties.
But even the most careful homeowners may become a victim to Halloween hijinks. The good news is that their insurance policies may cover some of the damage. Click through the following slides to see five common Halloween pranks, and whether or not policies cover the damage.
1. Vandalized vehicles?
On Halloween, personal vehicles are almost twice as likely to be vandalized than any other day of the year, according to a recent studies. October 31 has the highest average number of claims for any given day of the year for vehicle vandalism with approximately 1,250 claims each year.
While moving a vehicle into a garage is the best way to protect against vandalism, most comprehensive auto coverage will cover splotches from paintballs or egg splatters.
However, whether or not a victim should file a claim depends on the amount of damage. If the paint is damaged, for example, filing a claim is justified. If it only takes a few washes, it may not meet a policyholder’s deductible, which usually ranges anywhere from $100 to $500.
2. Getting TP’d?
The night before Halloween—often referred to as Devil’s Night or Mischief Eve—is traditionally when pranksters vandalize properties, toilet paper and egg houses, smash pumpkins, and cause trouble.
Adorning peoples’ trees with toilet paper is one of the most common Halloween pranks, and while toilet paper does not usually damage trees, should a tree become damaged in an act of vandalism most homeowners’ policies will cover it. Experts recommend, however, that there should be damages equating $100 or more to make a claim worthwhile.
If there is major damage, be sure that a claims representative takes a look before homeowners begin cutting down limbs or hauling away debris.
And although it may seem like common sense, using fire is not the best way to remove toilet paper from trees.
Last January, a family Alabama was Toilet Papered by some Halloween pranksters. While the family was able to clean up most of the mess, some of the toilet paper remained stuck high in their magnolia tree. In order to get rid of the last pieces of pesky toilet paper, they got a ladder and a lighter to try to set the toilet paper ablaze.
A gust of wind blew the flaming toilet paper into the yard, which ignited the grass, and eventually the Crauswell’s home was destroyed. While the family was able to evacuate safety, they expect their homeowners’ policy to cover the mishap, and plan to rebuild their home on the same property.
3. Dog bites?
Halloween brings heavy traffic to the home, whether it is because a homeowner is handing out candy to trick-or-treaters or is hosting a costume party. But while this may be all fun and games for humans, Halloween can be a stressful time for dogs, who may be confused or upset by guests constantly coming and going. And even if the family dog is usually docile and non-aggressive, anxiety may provoke a dog to bite a visitor.
More than a third of all liability claims paid out last year by homeowners’ insurance companies were the result of dog bites, totaling almost $479 million according to the Insurance Information Institute. Last year, dog bite claims topped 16,000, with an average of $29,400 paid out per claim.
While each state has different rules regarding dog bite claims, homeowners’ policies usually cover liability and medical expenses related to household accidents. While it isn’t common, if the dog is excluded from the policy, the homeowner becomes responsible for the costs in damages.
Homeowners should communicate with their agents to see if they are protected. Regardless of whether or not a homeowner is covered, agents should recommend that homeowners take proper precautions to protect their pooch and guests on Halloween night.
4. Halloween burglary?
Some homeowners want to escape the neighborhood trick-or-treating madness and go out for the night, whether it is to see a scary movie or attend a costume party. However, leaving the house obviously makes homeowners more vulnerable to theft, especially on Halloween night.
On Halloween, like any other night of the year, a homeowners’ policy will cover the theft of any belongings, as well as any damage that occurs because of the break-ins. But the homeowner still must establish proof of ownership of items that are stolen.
While clients should keep a regular inventory of their valuables, doing so before Halloween, especially if homeowners plan on leaving the house for the night, can help clients prepare for the worst-case scenario.
While the best defense of theft on Halloween is to stay at home, keeping the lights on may also deter burglars by making it appear that someone is in the house.
5. Grave matters?
Unfortunately, a common Halloween prank is the theft or damage to a tombstone. But grave markets are usually covered by homeowners’ policies. The typical amount covered for a tombstone is around $1,000, but homeowners can take out additional insurance of up to $5,000, which may be a good move if the tombstone is more expensive.