How Does Home Insurance Cover Holiday Hazards?

Reviewing your coverage and practicing safe decorating habits can help protect you in case disaster strikes during holiday festivities.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

Reviewer: Jeffrey Green Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
Reviewer: Jeffrey Green
Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

Jeff Green has held a variety of sales and management roles at life insurance companies, Wall street firms, and distribution organizations over his 40-year career.  He was previously Finra 7,24,66 registered and held life insurance licenses in multiple states. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University.

Christmas lights plugged in at night with sparks from outlet. Holiday Decoration Hazards.

Between 2015 and 2019, fire departments across the US responded to calls from more than 790 homes for structure fires that started because of holiday decorations other than Christmas trees. An average of about $13 million in property damage per year resulted from these fires, along with 26 civilian injuries and one death.

Not only is following safe procedures while decorating your home for the holidays critical for the well-being of you and your family, but it also minimizes your risk of needing to file insurance claims. An independent insurance agent can help you get equipped with the right kind of coverage just in case disaster does strike over the holidays. But for starters, here's a breakdown of some of the biggest holiday decoration hazards and how coverage can help.

How Does Home Insurance Cover Holiday Hazards?

Having the right kind of homeowners insurance can help protect your family and property if an incident happens while decorating the home, or otherwise preparing for the holidays and related festivities. Your home insurance can protect you against holiday hazards in the following ways:

  1. Damage to your home: If your Christmas tree, other decorations, or even your oven started a fire that damaged the structure of your home, your homeowners insurance could help reimburse you for the repairs or rebuilding required.
  2. Damage to your personal property: Decorating can lead to not only ornaments but other property getting damaged or broken, but fortunately home insurance includes coverage for your contents to help pay for their repair or replacement as well.
  3. Injuries and other accidents: If you have friends, guests, or professionals over to your home to help decorate for the holidays, you could be held responsible for their injuries or personal property damage if an accident happens. Falls off of ladders are especially common, so fortunately your home insurance includes liability protection that can reimburse you for legal costs if you get sued for these incidents.

Working together with your independent insurance agent to review your homeowners insurance before the holidays arrive is crucial for increasing the likelihood that your family has a peaceful celebration together. If you’re lacking in any important coverage areas, your independent insurance agent can help you increase your limits, or bridge the gaps by with endorsements or other add-ons.

The Three Most Common Holiday Hazards

Some holidays pose more of a threat to the home than others. Here are the top three most common home holiday hazards that you need coverage to protect against:

  1. Thanksgiving: The number one holiday for home cooking fires, as well as the peak day of the year for these incidents overall, is Thanksgiving. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve come in second and third place. Home insurance covers fire as one of its primary listed perils, whether they're caused by overcooking a turkey or an overloaded electrical socket.
  2. Candles: Candles accounted for the start of 7,400 different home fires between 2015 and 2019, and resulted in $291 million in property damage, along with 670 civilian injuries and 90 deaths each year. Candle fires are more common in the colder months and are most often caused by placing a candle too close to something flammable, such as a curtain. Your home insurance covers fire damage to your home and belongings, as well as your liability if a third party at your home got injured or suffered property damage due to a candle fire.
  3. Christmas tree fires: Christmas trees led to a reported 160 home fires between 2015 and 2019, and resulted in $10 million in property damage, along with 12 civilian injuries and two deaths each year. Most Christmas tree fires start because a heating source was placed too close to the tree, but these fires can also be caused by an overloaded electrical socket that the lights are plugged into, or a faulty strand of lights. Again, home insurance can cover structural damage and contents damage caused by fires, as well as third-party injuries and property damage.

Make sure to have enough home insurance on hand before inviting friends, family, workers, or other guests over to your property to help decorate for or even celebrate the holidays. Without this coverage, you could end up responsible for paying lawsuit costs out of your own pocket if an incident occurs.


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Other Holiday Hazards Worth Watching Out For

Candles, trees, and turkeys aren't the only potential hazards looming in your home during the holiday season. You must also be aware of the common occurrence of these home disasters during the holidays:

  • Falls from ladders, steps, porches, etc.: Many holiday injuries are caused by falls. With all the holiday excitement, it’s critical to always remember to watch your step, especially if you’re up on the roof adjusting decorations.
  • Objects above the fireplace: Though hanging stockings above the mantle can add a level of cheer to the home, their proximity to the flames in your fireplace can quickly get out of hand, especially if your holders are unsteady.
  • Overloaded electrical outlets: If you have a string of Christmas tree lights and other electric-powered decorations all plugged into the same outlet, that can create the perfect recipe for another kind of house fire.
  • Cuts from ornaments: Antique glass ornaments may be enticing, but they’re also extremely fragile. Deep cuts and lacerations from stepping on ornaments are another of the most common holiday injuries.
  • Slipping on ice: For folks in areas that get all four seasons, the holidays can also bring a specific type of weather. Slips and falls on snow, sleet, and ice are among the most commonly reported holiday injuries by far.

Being aware of these possible, common home hazards during the holidays can help you better anticipate and prepare for them ahead of time, minimizing your risk of needing to repair your home or file insurance claims. They can also help you protect yourself, your family, and any guests that come over. 

Tips for Decorating Safely

Fortunately, decorating your home for the holidays doesn't have to be a dangerous experience. Put these critical decorating safety tips into practice first, and you'll greatly increase your chances of avoiding possible incidents.

  1. Clear the fireplace before use: If you'll be lighting a fire in your fireplace over the holidays, take the extra time to remove stockings and other objects from the surrounding area before lighting that first log.
  2. Distribute plugs evenly: Surge protectors can help you avoid overloading an outlet, but even they come with limits. Never plug one power strip into another one, and be sure to divide the electrical load evenly between your outlets.
  3. Keep heat sources away from flammable materials: Make sure that all lights and heat sources are a good distance away from drapes, carpeting, and furniture to prevent fires.
  4. Set a timer: When going to bed or out away from the home, be sure to set a timer on holiday lights and mechanical decorations to help prevent fires, and conserve energy.
  5. Don’t overdo powered ornaments: Ornaments that need to be plugged into a bulb socket on your string of lights (like a talking Starship Enterprise, for example) should be used sparingly. Make sure to use no more than two of these electric ornaments per light strand to avoid overload. 

Following these safe decorating tips along with getting the proper coverage secured before the holidays can help you avoid major incidents and financial hardships. If you need to review your existing home insurance or get a new policy altogether, your independent insurance agent can help you. Take care to put effort into updating your coverage and following safety guidelines over the holidays, and you'll have a much better chance of relaxing and enjoying them with your family.

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?

Independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.

Independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best homeowners insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.

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