Holiday Cheer & Seasonal Risks: the Help of Homeowner’s Insurance for Burglaries (pt.3)

Homeowner's Insurance for Burglaries

The mail-by date to get all those gifts and goodies to the right recipients on time is this weekend: Dec.17th 

And thats just to get common priority parcels to the continental U.S. by Dec. 25th. With 13 other holidays in December alone, there are a lot of reasons to send celebrations and hope they arrive on time. 

Another way to look at it: there are a lot of reasons to hope the cheer will land where it’s intended to be, be on time, and stay there.

Porch piracy (yes, it is enough of a thing, it has its own name now) has become so rampant that 1 in 7 Americans have experienced that undesirable discovery that one of their packages has been taken from their doorstep. 

Its unpleasant enough to imagine anyone stepping onto your porch to snag something that is not theirs, but imagine the discomfort in the thought of someone entering the home to grab what doesnt belong to them. 

So, have you added an awareness of your homeowner’s insurance for burglaries to your wishlist yet?

No? Well, you’re in the right place to learn what can be done with homeowner’s insurance for burglaries.

Let’s back up a bit- take a step back from the burglary of home and burglary of faith in humanity a bit. 

Homeowner’s Insurance for Burglaries: Framing the Holiday Season

You have a lot going on this time of year, and a lot on display. 

There are those special decorations that come out once a year, drawing eyes, smiles, and appreciation from those around. 

Gifts are piling up, out in the open to build excitement, and in the hidden corners to keep them out of sight of those curious, prying eyes. 

Friends, family, and all those invited to share in the season, are coming in and out of the house, hands full of good tidings, and good wine. 

Nothing uncommon, but also not unnoticed

Burglaries committed during the holiday season account for 8.3% of all burglaries committed in the U.S. annually. Crimes committed during the holiday season account for 8.1% of all crime in the U.S. annually

Fortunately  for you, though, you also have coverage in your homeowner’s insurance for burglaries that helps in the case your home is added to that statistic. You’re also in the right place for answers to those questions that pop up in mind:

What can be helped by my homeowner’s insurance for burglaries? 

What can I do to fortify my homeowner’s insurance for burglaries?

Before ever needing to make a claim, what can I do to not bring that unwanted attention (and intention) to my home? 

Homeowner's Insurance for Burglaries

Homeowner’s Insurance for Burglaries: What Brings Attention

Let’s start a bit before anyone enters the home and before burglary happens. 

There are common holiday season habits that, when compiled to one residence, can highlight the opportunity and the cache kept inside. 

Consider the following habits and how you can redirect your holiday movements in natural ways that dont take away from your flow with all the holiday hullabaloo (and don’t put you in the position of having to look into a claim under your homeowner’s insurance for burglaries): 

  • – Staging your brightly lit tree, front and center: Your tree looks beautiful, and that very full ring of presents that circle around its base is something for everyone to be excited about- but hopefully not “everyone” to include some who may be treating it as window shopping for a home to enter. 
    • — Alternatively, you can stage your tree in a less auspicabile spot in the home, and pull the curtains or blinds before lighting it at night.
  • -Showing off the extras you’ve acquired: Whether letting packages pile up on your porch for those package pirates, or sharing the constant flow of new gear coming from car to front door, if your home is highlighted as having all those items someone else might want, it can move to top of the list on homes to “visit”. 
    • –Alternatively, you can create a habit of monitoring the delivery dates of your packages to ensure to grab them up quickly, require a signature to collect them so they are never just sitting on your porch, pull into the garage or more protected parking area before unloading the car, etc. 
  • -Packaging of all the new toys and gifts sitting on the sidewalk: if the mystery of wrapped gifts and shopping bags can pique the interest of a determined burglar, imagine what the packaging of specific items can do- especially when they are sitting out, showing what has been opened, celebrated, and put into use in the home. 
    • –Alternatively, you can cut up and break down larger packaging to fit in the trashcan better, or set it aside (inside and out of sight) for one big run to the dump all at once 
  • -Leaving your home looking unoccupied: On the other end of the spectrum of holiday habits while in the home, there is the most obvious highlight to those looking for easy targets- not being home and making it appear that way. Holiday vacations happen, but indicating you’re away takes away the greatest obstacle for burglars-to-be. 
    • –Alternatively, you can hire one of the neighbor kids to shovel your walkway when it snows, have one of those neighbors or friends pick up packages as they arrive if you havent already put a stop on your mail, and put your lights on timers to still come on and off. 

Remember, these are suggestions that are not to disrupt all that special holiday huzzah, rather, to simply to create a supportive flow of habits that ensure there isn’t more being invited in your home than the holiday cheer that is already welcomed. 

These suggestions are here for you because nearly 5,000 homes were broken into on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in 2021.

And we know, thats not quite the holiday cheer any of us are looking for.

With that in mind, let’s look at what you policy of homeowner’s insurance for burglaries can cover and how. 

Homeowner’s Insurance for Burglaries: Coverage and Operation

Most all home insurance policies (including renter’s policies) include theft as a covered peril.

Subject to the deductible, which is a cost-sharing mechanism so that policyholders have a bit of “skin in the game” with respect to covering all of their things, there is a lot to be covered under the line item called “personal property”. This may be as low as $10,000 total, but could be as high as 75% of luxury home dwelling amount, whose coverage could be as high as several million dollars.

Essentially, there is room for your home (or rented space) to find a policy that fits. 

What happens in the case of a burglary?

You discover the discomfort of your space being violated and items missing. The next step? 

Contact your insurance agent and open a claim to begin the process of recovery. 

If a home is robbed or burglarized, you will have to furnish a list of items lost to your agent. This is not to say that any proof of ownership must be provided, but a list of lost items must be generated in most all cases. Much responsibility may be placed upon the policyholders to generate the list, one way or another. 

This is an incredible challenge, because while the period of discovery is normally one year, some specialty items may not be discovered to be missing for over a year. 

Consider an expensive torque wrench in the garage, racquetball racquets, fine china, or the latest parabolic snow skis. Sometimes these items go unused for years and years at a time, but once they are realized to be missing, then they can be tied back to the break-in. 

If the period of discovery has lapsed, though, there is normally no remedy. This can be heart-breaking!

What is “period of discovery”?

  • – This is the container of an established time frame in which missing items can be identified and added to the list of potentially taken possessions to be covered in the claim. This period is usually set at a year. 

There is the added stress of time constraints to keep in mind as you navigate the misfortune and despair of a break-in. 

Homeowner's Insurance for Burglaries
We have a bit of a secret tip for you though!

We’ve noticed some of the most savvy clients have a home inventory documentation of some sort. Whether on a specialized phone app, a spreadsheet online, or better yet: a slow and methodical video of a home walk-around conducted every few years that has been uploaded to the cloud for permanence- no matter the format, its existence is most important! 

Set a reminder to yourself to review, or update, this inventory documentation

Some homeowners change their smoke detector batteries every New Year or perhaps on their birthday- any reminder is a good reminder. 

Don’t stress over the constant need to update though; any documentation is better than none at all. Not the latest items? It’s ok! If you replaced your  home theater set last summer, the old video would reflect that, featuring your old television. Your brain will calculate for the update, as you review the video and notice the difference instantly. Voila! Memory created, and the new home theater set can be recorded on your claim form.

Remember: You do not have to prove you own items to cover them. 

But you MUST be specific as to what was lost. That list may be required to contain basic information about items, like size, brand (if differentiating), capacity, construction, and use. 

For example: If a person were to describe their dining room table set it may be listed as such: “Dallas Classic 8-seat, cherry wood, 4 years old, with leaf to expand an additional two sets of two place settings. Original cost was $4.5k + tax”. 

Imagine trying to create this much detail on 100 items in your home, while trying to determine what is missing, while simultaneously feeling violated and fearful that the burglars may return, perhaps even when your family is home asleep!

This is why the pre-emptive prep and using a memory device makes all the sense in the world. 

Murphy’s law says if you’re ready it’ll never happen, so let’s trust Murphy, invest 20 minutes into a video and get uploading!

Homeowner’s Insurance for Burglaries: How it Looks for YOU

We have coached many clients in various situations through these processes. Sometimes they can be as smooth as possible, and other times, it’s a year and, still, no one is happy. Clients believe they had to work too hard, the insurance company seems to believe they were taken advantage of, and the agent felt that if a list or inventory were somehow available that 100 hours of communication going-between could have been avoided. The process can be painful just as the originating experience is. 

Also: Remember that in most all home policies “replacement cost personal property” as an endorsement. So, the actual coverage is “actual cash value”. That dining room table set above? At a moving sale today it may be replaced as it is for $1k. Most all companies sum up the actual cash value for all lost items and their initial payment is for that sum total. For items that are replaced within the terms of the contract then, and ONLY then, is the difference to “replacement cost” made. 

In that example case of the dining room table set, $1k would be paid. Then if the client goes to replace it with like kind and quality and it costs $6.5k, then the balance can normally be expected. Did they benefit financially? In a way yes and in a way, no.

Financially, once the client has the new set it is worth a bit more than the old set was the day before the loss. But to get an updated item new money must change hands.  Not all items must be replaced! 

Mature couples may have already been in a downsizing period of their lives. So, they may accept actual cash value for their items and be perfectly happy. 

A couple of newlyweds don’t have any spares and are a growing family, so they are likely to need to replace all of the lost items. They will get more for their items because they may not accept the first payments of actual cash value but may file supplemental claims for replacement for all items. It’s the client’s choice.

We hope this all makes real-life sense. 

The holiday season can feel chaotic, and adding the awareness of a rise in home burglaries isnt always on the list of wants, but definitely falls under the list of needs

Knowing the structure of your homeowner’s insurance for burglaries, its functions of support, and what you can do to fortify its functionality goes beyond the seasonal celebrations. 

If you are confused and/or want to run through some scenarios then please call  your agent and practice on some whys and what-ifs. Understanding the process may make one’s life much simpler in the long run.

Ashland Insurance is just a call away, and here to answer any of your questions 

541.482.0831 Ashland

541.857.0679 Medford