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December 22, 2015

Holiday Crime – Are you Protected

Though nationally most home break-ins and burglaries occur in the summer months, some states report a sharp increase in December. A 2013 report by CNN found that California alone saw an 18% increase in burglaries in December 2011, while some cities see the highest number of burglaries in the weeks around Christmas.

While standard homeowners policies cover most items in your home, it’s important to be aware of the limits stated in the policy. If your policy has limits on valuable items like jewelry, electronics, collectibles, and more, you might need additional coverage. Limits and conditions might mean you don’t get reimbursed for some stolen items.

To buy additional coverage for a valuable item, have the item appraised by a third party. Your agent will add the appraised value into your insurance policy, so that if that item is stolen, you won’t be stuck paying out of pocket for it. Don’t forget to get items appraised regularly—some appreciate in value!

Another thing to be wary of during the holiday season is identity theft. With more online shopping, electronic gift cards, and company data breaches, you can’t be too careful protecting your personal information. Don’t shop while on a public Wi-Fi network, like in a coffee shop. Use your credit card instead of your debit card to protect yourself from fraudulent charges. Look for a lock symbol on the left side of a URL when shopping on websites to ensure the site is secure. Most of all, monitor your bank statements and your credit score.

Some tips for avoiding theft this holiday:

  • Don’t leave your home unattended: Burglars check for clues to see if a home is empty. If you’ll be gone for a few days, have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers, turn different lights on/off, and shovel your walkway if it snows.
  • Invest in an alarm system: A majority of convicted burglars say they purposely avoid homes with security systems, or run off when an alarm sounds.
  • Don’t leave things out in the open: Burglars will “window shop”, either posing as a utility representative or salesperson to get a quick look inside, glancing in windows where most people keep their tree and gifts in plain sight, or looking in your trash to see what big ticket item boxes you’ve thrown away.
  • Track packages: If a package’s delivery date and time is going to be an issue, get in touch with the delivery service. You can usually change how or when your package is delivered. Have your package delivered to your work or a pickup location. You can also call the post office or other package delivery service to alert them to any suspicious activities.
  • Check that gift card: Some thieves will use scanners to take note of the gift card barcodes to use them once you load them with money. Ask for a gift card from behind the counter. If the card is pre-loaded, ask the cashier to scan it first to check the balance.
  • Lock your doors: This applies to your home AND your car! 30% of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door or window.

As always, if you see any suspicious behavior, alert the authorities. If you have questions about your personal coverage, including homeowners, renters, personal property, and identity theft protection, contact Heffernan Insurance Brokers today.

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