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With Christmas well on its way, you'll no doubt have a lot on your mind. Have you started your shopping yet? How on earth will you fit everyone around the dinner table? When will you have time to put the decorations up?
It's so easy to become preoccupied in the festive build up, that it can be easy to forget about protecting yourself, your family and your home. Unfortunately, that's why so many people need to make Christmas insurance claims.
Here's how to make sure you don't become one of them...
Don't Make It Easy For Thieves
To most people, Christmas is the season of good will. But for others, it's a time of opportunistic possibilities. With so many gifts stored in houses across the country, thieves operate at an alarming rate.
When you think about it, your home is usually a much more attractive target for thieves during Christmas time. With invitingly wrapped gifts sat neatly under your Christmas tree, it's easy to see why burglary rates increase massively in December.
Coupled with the fact that many people spend more time out and about, visiting family and friends around Christmas, home break ins are a disaster waiting to happen.
And with that, home insurance claims also rise around the Christmas period, as people look to cover the costs of their stolen goods.
To ensure that your home doesn't become a target for burglars, there are a few steps you should take that will reduce the chances of you having to make a Christmas insurance claim:
If you're one of the 3.5 million people who jet off abroad for Christmas each year, then make sure that your home is secure before you go, and that you don't leave valuables (gifts or personal belongings) lying around within easy view of the window.
Beware Of Fire Hazards
As well as theft, the threat of fire damage is greatly increased in homes during the festive season. Once again, fire damage can lead to many Christmas insurance claims as people's homes are affected.
Sure, your home will look great and feel nice and festive once you've put the decorations up, but how safe is it? Fairy lights in particular are a big fire risk, particularly old ones. If your set of lights has even a single loose connection or broken bulb, they can easily catch alight. Consider investing in new ones which are properly tested for safety.
Never leave Christmas lights on when you go to bed or when you leave the house, no matter how short a time you might be out for. Every year we hear stories of homes that have gone up in flames due to faulty Christmas lights; make sure yours is not one of them.
Another major fire hazard during the festive season is from candles. Many people love to display candles at Christmas time, creating a warm and cosy home environment. But these obviously pose a fire risk.
Ensure that candles are kept well away from flammable materials such as Christmas trees and cards. Also remember to extinguish candles when you go to bed and when you leave your house.
If you are cooking Christmas dinner at home, be careful. Although you may be an experienced cook, Christmas dinners usually require much more preparation and effort than usual, and it can be difficult to juggle the different pans and dishes.
Take your time to keep everything under control in order to reduce the chances of something bursting into flames; it may only take a misplaced tea towel to catch fire and spell disaster.
Think Before You Drive
We all know that Christmas is a time of over-indulgence, and that usually includes a few festive drinks. But when you're drinking alcohol, don't drive. Every year thousands of people make the mistake of thinking they're not over the limit, only to land themselves with driving bans and further punishments.
Don't take the risk; you're putting your own life at danger, as well as those of other people.
Another thing to consider at this time of the year is that your car is just as much at risk (if not more) of falling victim to thieves. When you're doing your Christmas shopping, don't don't leave valuable gifts in the car unattended. You don't want to have to make a Christmas insurance claim for theft of goods from your car.
Beware Of The Weather
Of course, Christmas falls right in the middle of the winter, so weather may become an issue. Roads may be icy and treacherous, whilst fog can make travel difficult. At a time when many of us travel to see friends and family, take the time to plan your journey effectively and avoid travelling in extreme weather.
The last thing you want around Christmas time is to have to make a car insurance claim due to an accident.
Also consider how your home may be affected in adverse weather conditions. Recent years have seen some properties devastated by flooding or high winds around Christmas time, so ensure yours is sufficiently protected against the elements.
Watch Out For Personal Injuries
As you become more and more busy around the Christmas period, remember to keep your personal safety (and that of others) at the front of your mind. When you're decorating your home with festive decorations, take great care when fetching things from the loft or standing on step ladders.
If you're in charge of the dinner, keep calm and try to avoid burns, cuts and scalds whilst chopping and cooking. Although you might need a helping hand or two, try to keep the kitchen free from overcrowding to avoid pots and pans being knocked accidentally.
For many people, Christmas is all about the children. But remember to keep them safe, too. Ensure that they are not left unattended with electrical toys, and keep them well away from open fires and heaters. Also keep children out of the kitchen area, where there are many potentially harmful hazards.
If you're one of the millions of people who leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute, take extra care. You'll likely have to endure packed shopping centres with people pushing and shoving each other to get to stores, making accidents and injuries more likely.
If the weather's bad, shop floors can also become slippery and hazardous as people walk in with wet shoes from outside. Christmas often sees a rise in personal injury claims as people suffer accidents in public places; don't be another addition to the statistics.
While Christmas is a time of great joy and happiness, for a small handful, the festive period can be ruined by accidents and misfortune. Christmas insurance claims can be avoided by taking extra care, and using common sense to stay safe and away from harm.