Thanksgiving is a special time to gather with loved ones. But when your turkey catches fire, your aunt drinks a little too much and falls and breaks her leg, or your fur baby takes a little nip of a guest, it’s time to be thankful for insurance. Fortunately, there’s coverage for most Thanksgiving dinner disasters. Whether you’re home entertaining guests, or traveling to friends or family, we’ve compiled a quick guide.
It’s easy to lose sight of something on the stove or in the oven when you’re also attending to guests. That’s why you’re more likely to have a holiday cooking fire on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The risk increases if you’re deep-frying a turkey. Deep fryers heat up to such a degree that they have caused severe burns and injuries, and even deaths. (If you must have a deep-fried turkey, consider ordering one from your local grocery store.) When cooking fire accidents happen, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will cover the damage to your home, your belongings, and any related injuries to your guests. (For the guest injury part, skip to the next section.)
- Your homeowner’s policy includes dwelling coverage. This covers the repair or rebuilding of the structure of your home up to your policy limit. So, if the fire damages your kitchen or other areas, you can report the claim to your insurance adjuster. They will advise you on how to proceed. Your insurer will likely send someone out to inspect the damage and write up an estimate. You will get reimbursed by your policy, minus your deductible (which is the amount that you chose to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in).
- Personal property coverage is that part of your homeowner’s or renter’s policy that protects your possessions such as kitchen appliances, furnishings, and if the fire spreads beyond the kitchen, your television, clothing, etc. Fire is one of 16 different named “perils” that your policy covers. There are dollar limits for certain items such as money, jewelry, and firearms, so check with your insurer. For personal property coverage on a homeowner’s policy, you typically get 50 or 75% of Coverage A, the total amount of coverage for your home. If you’re renting, you get to choose the amount of personal property coverage when you select your policy.
- You can select replacement cost or actual cash value (ACV) for personal property. ACV is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. It will cost a little more for a policy that provides replacement cost (and we strongly recommend it).
- Depending upon the extent of the fire, your house may not be livable. If that’s the case, you would be covered for any necessary increase in living expenses, such as lodging, food, and gas. Under Coverage D – Loss of Use, called “Additional Living Expense,” your policy will provide a flat percentage toward living costs, usually 30% of the Coverage A amount. Some states have time limits (e.g. 12 months) on when you can use that coverage. Plan to cover those additional expenses out-of-pocket.
Pro Tip: Having a fire extinguisher could earn you a discount on your home insurance policy.
Injuries can happen anytime, especially during gatherings where people may drink. Guests could become tipsy and trip, slip, and fall. That could happen even if they’re not drunk, of course. Burns could occur if there is a kitchen fire. Your guests could get food poisoning. Your normally well-behaved fur baby could bite one of your guests. While you can’t anticipate every situation, you can make sure there are no obvious dangers in your home, such as tripping hazards or unsecure handrails. Keep everyone’s safety and comfort in mind, including where your pet may be during the festivities. Then, if a guest does get injured, your insurance can kick in.
- You may be covered for guest injuries under your homeowner’s or renter’s liability coverage. If you are found liable, the policy may cover damages to the injured party. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent scarring. The policy also provides a defense in court, if needed, for the policyholder. This is at the insurance company’s own expense.
- If you are not liable, but your guest was injured through his/her own fault, then Coverage F – Medical Payment to Others may cover your guest’s medical bills.
- Liability coverage does not apply to you and your family. Your own injuries or illnesses are not covered under homeowner’s or renter’s policies. You would use your own health insurance policy to cover any injuries that you might have in your home.
- If your dog has bitten a guest, make sure that your dog’s breed is not restricted by your insurance policy. Some policies will not cover breeds such as Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, or Rottweilers. California Casualty does not currently have such restrictions.
Thanksgiving on the Road
If you’re among the millions who drive to Thanksgiving celebrations, you’ll want to make sure your car is well-maintained, and that your car insurance is up to date. Be ready for the holiday traffic, and drive safely. An accident can put a damper on the holiday. The good news is that you’re covered if you do have one.
- If you cause an accident, you are responsible for damages. You would pay with your vehicle’s liability policy. Importantly, auto liability does not cover any damage to your own vehicle; that’s covered by collision. It also does not cover injury to you and your family; it only covers the people in the other car. Liability coverage is required by law in most states.
- There are two types of liability coverage:
- If you are found liable for the accident, bodily injury coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for the driver and passengers in the other vehicle. We say “helps pay” because it depends on how much coverage you choose. The costs of an accident can be more than your insurance policy limit.
- Property damage coverage helps pay for repairs for the other vehicle or for repair/replacement of property, such as a fence, damaged or destroyed in the collision.
- There are two types of liability coverage:
- If you are not at fault for the accident, the other driver is responsible for damages. Your insurance kicks in if the other driver does not have enough insurance. Collision covers your car for any type of damage, regardless of fault or if the person does not carry any/enough insurance. Underinsured motorist (UIM) and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage are for injuries. They cover you and your passengers if you are hit by an at-fault UM or UIM. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) can cover your car if hit by an at-fault uninsured motorist.
- Unlike liability insurance, collision coverage is not usually required—unless you’re leasing a car or paying off a loan on a vehicle. However, it may be good to have.
No matter where you enjoy the holiday, we wish you a safe celebration. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
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