Staying Safe: Avoid A Holiday Home Insurance Claim

The holiday season is one of the most joyous times of the year. There’s a wonderful abundance of family, friends, festivities, and cheer. But there’s also an increased risk for a holiday mishap. Especially fires.

Naturally, the first instinct is to turn to your homeowners insurance company after a disaster. Once a claim is filed, your insurer will send over an adjuster to evaluate the damage. Sadly though, the adjusters are representing the company’s interest first and foremost, which means the homeowner gets the short-end of the stick.

In a catastrophic house fire, for example, the insurer will often recommend a professional cleaning service to clean the carpets, furniture, etc., rather than pay replacement costs.

Rather than have to deal with the consequences of a bad faith insurance claim, consider taking the necessary steps needed to reduce these risks.

Christmas Tree Fires

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued a report in 2015 that showed that between the years of 2009-2013, Christmas trees were responsible for an estimated 210 house fires per year; this lead to an annual average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage.

Although Christmas tree fires are not very common, when they do occur, they are more likely to cause serious damage. Consider the following recommendations to avoid a fire hazard:

  • Consider using a flame retardant artificial tree.
  • If you decide to use a live tree, choose one with fresh, green needles.
  • Keep the base of the trunk in water to keep it fresh and prevent it from becoming hazardous.
  • Buy flame retardant products to spray on the tree.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, candles, etc.
  • Inspect all electrical decorations for broken bulbs or frayed wires.
  • Decorate your tree with UL-listed lights and extension cords and use them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before going to bed or leaving your house.
  • Dried-out trees create a greater fire hazard, so get rid of them after Christmas.
  • Bring down outdoor electrical lights after the holidays to prevent hazards.

Holiday Candles and Menorahs

The same study completed by the NFPA found that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 860 home fires during the same time frame (excluding Christmas trees). Annually, these fires account for an average of 1 death, 41 injuries, and $13.4 million in direct property damage.

Additionally, candles accounted for 38% of home decoration fires, with half of those occurring during the month of December. Remember the following candle safety tips to avoid a holiday tragedy.

  • Never leave candles unattended. Children and pets can quickly cause a fire by accident.
  • Keep burning candles away from flammable materials (i.e. Christmas trees).
  • Use candleholders that are heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to capture melting wax.
  • Do not burn your candle all the way. Extinguish the flame at two inches of solid wax, or ½ an inch if it’s in a container, for safety reasons.
  • Always extinguish candles before falling to sleep.

Electric Space Heaters

Fireplaces are uncommon in the McAllen metro area, but electric space heaters are still widely used during those occasional winter cold fronts. While necessary for many families, the NFPA urges caution and ask the public to practice safe heating tips. Though electric space heaters only account for 32% of home heating fire involved space heaters, they cause 79% of home heating fire deaths.

The leading factors for space heater fires includes the equipment being too close to combustible items such as furniture, clothing, and mattresses, as well leaving the space heater unattended.

Millin & Millin bad faith insurance lawyers offer the following tips.

  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters.
  • Keep the heating equipment at least 3 feet away from flammable items.
  • Never leave heaters unattended. Turn them off when you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
  • Place space heaters on solid, flat surfaces.
  • Inspect for damaged plugs or loose connections. Do not use a damaged space heater.
  • Use electric space heaters that have been recognized by testing laboratories.
  • If possible, purchase a portable space heater that automatically turns off when tipped over.

Millin & Millin Attorneys are here for you at every time of the year.

Even the most vigilant, safest family has accidents. If you are having to file an insurance claim, it’s likely due to the fact that you have just suffered through a terrible event. Having to deal with the unscrupulous tactics of an insurance company is the last thing you need on your plate during this time.

Depend on the responsiveness of the Millin & Millin legal team to get the justice you need when seeking your rightful compensation from deceitful insurers.

Contact us at (956) 631-5600 to get the legal representation you need.