Make sure your home is covered this Christmas
It's great to let your hair down at Christmas, but relaxing a little too much over the mulled wine can cause all kinds of household disasters.
At the same time, the darker winter months offer the ideal opportunity for burglaries to strike - no wonder this crime rate increases during November, December and January.
Whatever your plans this Christmas, make sure you take steps to protect yourself.
If you're planning to entertain at home this year, check that accidental damage cover is included in your home insurance policy. Red wine spillages, cigarette burns and breakages are common party calamities, and figures from Halifax Home Insurance found the average cost of accidental damage claims rises significantly in December and January, to around £550.
If you're hosting a party, store valuables or fragile items somewhere safe; use rugs, throws and table cloths to protect furniture; and consider using plastic cups and plates to avoid breakages.
The risk of household fires also soars over the festive period with the use of fairy lights, candles and log fires. Data from Halifax found the average fire damage claim hit £8,000 last year.
To cut the risk of fire, avoid putting naked flames near curtains or flammable objects and never leave them unattended. Don't overload electrical sockets with fairy lights, and remember to unplug them at the socket before you go to bed.
Flying sparks from log-burning fires can damage carpets or set furnishings alight, so a fireguard is a good idea. Also creosote - tar from burned wood - accumulates in chimney flues and can catch fire, causing the chimneystack to overheat and the walls to crack.
Get your chimney professionally cleaned to reduce this risk. You can find your nearest chimney sweep at Chimneyworks.co.uk.
Getting the right presents for all your loved ones might be top of your priority list, but don’t forget to make sure you are covered for the cost of your generosity should disaster strike before the big day.
Research from Marks & Spencer Money a third of households leave gifts under the Christmas tree well before 25 December, despite the fact that domestic burglaries increase dramatically during December.
David Wells, head of insurance at Marks & Spencer Money, says: “At Christmas it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season and forget about home security. However, we all know there are criminals who see this time of the year as providing them with rich pickings.”
He recommends several practical steps households can take to not only deter burglars but also protect their presents.
If possible, try not to put presents under the tree before Christmas Eve – especially if they will be on view from the street. Draw your curtains where possible to stop potential thieves ‘window shopping’, and avoid leaving packaging in nearby bins or outside your house - this is an invitation to thieves.
Parents with young children might be tempted to store presents in sheds, where little hands can’t seek them out, but be aware that your home insurance policy might not cover these items in the event they are stolen or damaged.
As a general safety measure, contact your insurer after buying expensive gifts to find out whether your policy will cover these or whether it’s worth opting for add-ons.