Finance Fright Night: Halloween Insurance Guide
Halloween may be one of the most popular holidays on the calendar, as it gives people of all ages the chance to costume up, land a big band of candy, and generally have a great time on and around October 31. However, spooky season also comes with its fair share of insurance risks.
Formally known as All Hallows Eve and originating from centuries-old Celtic bonfire celebrations during which participants dressed up in frightening costumes to scare away evil spirits, Halloween in its current form can also lead to unfortunate incidents if revelers carry on too much.
There’s a price to pay for such behavior and quite often, those costs can lead to severe financial penalties for incidents like unsafe driveways, auto accidents and drunk driving, vandalism, and out-of-control fires. Along with being dangerous, these can all lead to financial costs that can drain a bank account faster than Dracula can extract blood from a victim.
The good news? A solid insurance strategy can help individuals and businesses better handle any downside costs of celebrating Halloween.
“As Halloween approaches, insurance issues can get as spooky as the holiday itself,” says Daniel Ray, founder at InsuraceForBurial.com in Jacksonville, Fla. “Some of the most pressing
concerns include vandalism, theft, and accidents. Homeowners, drivers, and event organizers need to ensure they have appropriate coverage.”
“Simply put, you want to enjoy the holiday without any unexpected financial surprises, Ray notes.
How can you handle the biggest Halloween-related insurance risks this holiday? Let’s take a look – one spooky incident at a time.
Good home insurance can cover multiple issues surrounding the Halloween holiday – and vandalism is near the top of the list.
“Vandalism is covered under a homeowner’s policy on most occasions. It is always important to keep in mind the severity of the vandalism,” says Natale Scopelliti, an insurance agent with
Honig Conte Porrino Insurance Agency Inc., in New York, N.Y. “If a property is vandalized on a small scale (i.e., the damage is less than the homeowner’s policy deductible) then it may not pay to file a claim.”
It’s a good idea to reach out to your insurance broker and “let them know the extent of the damage and the total cost of repair right away,” Scopelliti says.
To file a vandalism claim, homeowners should contact the police right away, then call or go online and contact your insurer right away.
“Fortunately, most home insurance and business insurance policies include coverage for vandalism,” says Nick Schrader, an agent at Texas General Insurance. “This will pay to repair or
replace the damaged property from a covered loss. However, the insured will need to pay their property deductible before coverage kicks in, which could be as low as $500 or upwards of $5,000 per claim.”
Vacant Home Insurance
Vacant homes can also be a major issue if they aren’t properly insured.
“A majority of homeowner’s policies have a vacancy clause which will eliminate glass breakage, vandalism and malicious mischief coverage if the home is vacant for 60 days or more,” Scopelliti says. “I highly recommend that a homeowner speak with their insurance agent or broker before they vacate a home for more than 60 days so they can properly protect themselves,” Scopelliti adds.
Additionally, fire-related issues from a firepit, food burnt in an oven, or from faulty lights can also strike during the Halloween season.
“Even a small flame inside a pumpkin is able to do some serious damage if left unsupervised,” says Stuart Bensusan, a business development director at Surewise, a UK-based insurance provider. “While proper care should of course always be taken when handling an open flame, having insurance in place to cover your home against fire damage is still a wise precaution.”
For Businesses That Experience Halloween Incidents
Like home insurance, business insurance can protect companies from fires, vandalism, and theft around Halloween or at any time of the year.
“Business insurance like commercial property and liability policies cover Halloween vandalism. File a police report and contact the insurer to start a claim,” says John Terry, an agent at Crossroads IRA, a public insurance adjuster in Katy, Tex.
If a business experiences Halloween vandalism, they should take the following steps to file a claim with their insurance provider, according to Linda Chavez, an agent at Seniors Life Insurance Finder in Los Angeles, Cal.
1) Document the damage through photos or videos.
2) Notify the police and file a report.
3) Contact your insurance provider to report the incident and provide any
necessary information or documentation.
“It’s important for businesses to review their commercial property insurance policy to understand what type of coverage they have for vandalism and how they can file a claim,” Chavez notes.
Business insurance can also cover Halloween vandalism.
“In most cases, business insurance does cover Halloween vandalism. This can include damages to property, theft, and liability for accidents or injuries that occur on the premises,” Chavez says.
Theft or Damage to Tombstones and Burial Sites
When it comes to cemeteries, damages or theft of tombstones can be a real concern surrounding Halloween.
“Cemeteries should consider having coverage for these unexpected events,” Ray says. “If a cemetery falls victim to vandalism, the first step is to report the incident to the police and then reach out to their insurance company with all the necessary documentation.”
Generally, theft or damage to tombstone are covered under the cemetery’s property policy.
If a cemetery experiences vandalism, managers should take the following insurance-related steps, Scopelliti advises.
1) Secure the damaged area.
2) Take photo for the record.
3) If a significant cleanup is necessary, contact your broker for the appropriate vendor recommendation.
4) Protect the location from further harm.
5) Take an inventory of the damaged property.
Halloween Pranks That Go Wrong
Any individual that has a homeowner or renters’ policy may have coverage for bodily injury or property damage to others in the event of a trick or prank gone wrong through the personal liability coverage.
Also, a business that has general liability could have coverage as well.
“The key to whether trick or a prank wrong is covered under either coverage type can come down to the intent,” Scopelliti says. “If the intention was to inflict bodily injury or property damage, then that would not be covered. However, if through the individual’s negligence bodily injury and/or property damage is inflicted then there may be coverage.”
Coverage for Halloween Parties and Public Attractions
What about insurance for hosting a haunted house or a Halloween party? In those scenarios, insurance is available, although with caveats.
“Insurance coverage for Halloween parties is needed, especially for things like accidental fires, slips and falls, and drunk driving,” Scopelliti says. “A homeowner hosting a haunted house or a party at their home must have an in-force homeowners’ policy. An umbrella policy for additional protection is also recommended.”
General liability insurance can provide coverage for any injuries that occur due to slips and falls at your Halloween party or event. “This type of insurance can also cover medical expenses, legal fees, and any settlements or judgments,” Chavez says.
Additionally, if you’re serving alcohol at your Halloween party or event, it’s important
to have liquor liability insurance in place. “That insurance can provide coverage for any damages or injuries caused by someone who was served alcohol at your event and then drives under the influence,” Chavez notes.
For public attractions like pumpkin patch visits, “haunted” houses, and hay rides, a general liability with a limited number of exclusions is a good idea.
“This is when having an insurance broker helps,” Scopelliti adds. “An insurance agent or broker can provide the broadest option available.”
Businesses should also have the proper auto policy for the hayrides.
“If a guest is injured while the tractor is in motion, then it falls to the auto policy,” Scopelliti says. “Consider an umbrella policy that covers over the general liability and the auto. Any limit from $1 million to $5 million would be good .”
“However I would push for the $5 million policy, given the risk involved,” she added.
If You Have a Ghost in the House
Never say never, so If you are unlucky enough to live in a haunted home, you’ll no doubt be accustomed to the spooky occurrences that come hand-in-hand with a paranormal lodger.
No pouting about your poltergeist problem – there’s insurance for that, too.
“Homeowners with a ghost as a guest should make sure they have accidental damage insurance in place,” says Bensusan. “That will make sure you’re covered if your poltergeist decides to have some fun throwing your furniture around.”