Simple Tips to Avoid Insurance Claims During Thanksgiving Travel

With millions of Americans traveling to see family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, remember to take a few steps to prepare your home so that you avoid returning to a big mess and an insurance claim, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

“You start the dishwasher just before you run out the door and hit the road for your Thanksgiving holiday with the intention of returning home to clean dishes, only to come back a week later to a flooded kitchen,” said Christopher Hackett.  “Water claims, robberies and home fires are a few of the hazards that can dampen holiday cheer. Fortunately, there are simple steps to take that will avoid calamities and ensure a happy and claim-free holiday season.”

AAA forecasts 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving by car, plane or other means.  AAA reports that Thanksgiving traveling is expected to decline by 1.5 percent down from 2012.

“Take a few minutes before loading up the car to prevent the most common types of claims,” said Hackett.  “Don’t alert criminals to your travel plans by posting your departure on Facebook or Twitter.  You can always talk about how great your trip was once you are back home. The top driving safety tips are to buckle up, don’t drink and drive and avoid distractions of all types. With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. We encourage motorist to plan their routes in advance when traveling on unfamiliar roads, be patient and allow extra travel time.”

For those staying home keep in mind that home cooking, candles and washers and dryers are the main culprits for household fires. If you fry the turkey, do it outside. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that deep-fryer fires destroy 900 homes causing more than $15 million in property damage annually. Also never leave candles unattended near children or pets. According to the NFPA, fire departments respond to over 11, 600 home structure fires started by candles each year, resulting in $438 million in direct property damage. NFPA also reports that dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home fires between 2006 – 2010.  Clothes dryers account for 92 percent of household fires and the leading cause of dryer fires is failure to clean out the lint trap.

How to have a happy and claims-free Thanksgiving:

  1. Don’t leave appliances on as you depart: Don’t leave the dryer, dish washer or washing machine on as you leave the house.  A hose can break or a fire can start and no one is home to turn off the appliance and avoid damage.
  2. Turn off the water to your hoses: Turn the water to your washing machine so if a hose breaks a flood is avoided.
  3. Set alarms: Remember to set your burglar alarm as you leave.  Central monitoring alarms can detect a fire or break in.
  4. Close and lock doors and windows: Be sure to close and lock all doors before you go.  Invest in a deadbolt lock.
  5. Timers for lights:  Make the home looked lived in.  Set timers for lights around the house at random times.
  6. Don’t Invite Intruders: Don’t post your vacation plans on social media sites, burglars track social media to see who is home and who is not at home.
  7. Wrap your pipes:  If you live in a cold weather area, wrap your outside pipes with foam or towels and duct tape.  Don’t turn your heater off completely while you are away.
  8. Keep your important papers secure: Place your most important documents in a safe deposit box or in a fire proof safe.

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