5 Common Summer Insurance Claims to Avoid
Summer is the season for camping, canoeing, sunglasses, and sightseeing. It’s also the season for specific insurance claims that you can avoid with a little preparation and caution.
- Outdoor fires. There are many opportunities for accidental fire damage in the summer: cooking on grills, using a fire pit, setting off fireworks, and lighting tiki torches or outdoor candles.
According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,900 home fires per year in the years 2009–13 involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues that caused $118 million in property damage. Yowza! Causes included leaks and breaks in propane gas grills, failure to clean grills, placing the grill too close to flammable items, and leaving the grill unattended.
To keep your home and your barbecue guests safe, never leave a grill that is on or has hot coals unattended. Double check your liability and personal property coverage to make sure you’re covered in case of an outdoor fire–related accident.
- Car accidents. After Memorial Day, the summer driving season officially starts. Not only are families taking long road trips, but teen drivers are on the road in larger numbers—taking driver’s ed, logging driving hours for their license, and driving to and from summer jobs. With more inexperienced and distracted drivers on the road, more car accidents are bound to happen.
Distractions for old and new drivers alike are also a danger: talking or interacting with other passengers (like kids in a backseat on a long road trip), using a cellphone (checking a map for directions), and dealing with something inside the vehicle (changing the radio volume or keeping food from spilling). On top of these, summer also means increased road construction, flash floods, overheated vehicles, and glare—all of which can add to car accidents.
Before any road trips, make sure car tires are at the proper pressure and have sufficient tread, all fluids topped are off, and oil and air filters are changed. If you’re traveling to the beach, only drive on the sand if it’s legal and your car is equipped with high ground clearance and all-wheel drive. Be prepared for the likelihood of a cracked or broken windshield from an errant baseball, a rock kicked up on the dirt road to your campsite, or a canoe or bike tumbling off the car in front of you on the highway.
- Drownings. It’s a somber topic, but if you have a pool, it’s important to take precautions to prevent drownings. Make sure your pool is fenced and has a child-proof gate. Only allow children to swim when an adult is in attendance. Consider taking first aid classes.
- Boating accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, recreational boating accidents caused $42 million in property damage, 626 deaths, and 2,613 injuries in 2015. These accidents involved boats colliding, boats running into people on jet-skis, crashing into docks, running out of gas far from shore, and even being damaged on the way to or from the lake. Leading factors of accidents while on the water include inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed.
To avoid becoming a number on this list, take proper boat safety and operation classes, make sure there are enough life jackets on board and the boat is in good working order, keep sufficient emergency supplies aboard, and avoid mixing alcohol with boat captainship.
- Home burglaries and break-ins. Summer sees a higher rate of home burglaries and aggravated assaults because more people are away from home on vacation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. You can avoid having to make a claim against your homeowners’ insurance thanks to an opportunistic burglar by installing a security alarm system, motion detection lights, and/or cameras. It’s also a smart idea to have neighbors collect your mail, packages, and newspapers. You can purchase timers for inside lights to make it appear you’re home in the evenings and at night. And never announce on social media when you’ll be out of town.