Christmas brings goodwill and cheer.and a whole heap of unexpected insurance claims

As Christmas approaches, AXA says don't let accidents in your home ruin your holiday. Insurance companies expect household claims over the period to be well over £100million1.

15 December 2008

Posted in Product

by Daniel O’Byrne (see media contact)

As many people know, Christmas is a time of rich pickings for burglars, but the festive season presents many hazards other than theft around the home including Christmas trees, candles and burst pipes.

Research from AXA suggests that more of the British public (17%) than usual are likely to have accidents in the home at this time of year - but the reality is that many simply don't do anything to prevent them happening.

AXA reveals some of the things to look out for.

1) Unlocked doors - we all know that many household thefts are opportunistic and an unlocked door to a burglar is an open invitation whether you're at home or not. Over a third of us (37%) don't take care to secure our homes properly over the Christmas period.

2) Presents - while a tree surrounded by piles of gifts is a fantastic sight for children, it is also a fantastic sight for a would be burglar. Keep presents and valuables hidden - nearly half of us (41%) don't think to do this. Last Christmas, one AXA customer lost over £12,000 worth of Christmas gifts, electronics and jewellery when their house was broken into. AXA's direct home insurance automatically increases home contents by £6,000 for gifts and provisions during the Christmas period, but the heartache of having nothing under the tree on the day is impossible to replace.

3) Burst pipes - if you're heading to friends or relatives for Christmas leave your heating on low - less than half of us (44%) do this. And although white Christmases are rare, if there is a cold snap while you're away, frozen pipes could mean you return to a lot more than the unpacking.

4) Christmas trees - the dangers of the Christmas tree are many! AXA sees several claims each year for furniture damaged by falling or carelessly handled trees. One family even had the misfortune of having their Christmas tree catch on fire! A less obvious, but even more common claim is for ruined carpets caused by water or sap from the base of the tree, which can create on average £1000 worth of damage2. Yet only 59% of us consider we take proper precautions when putting up our trees.

5) Candles- around 4% of the British population say they have had accidents in the home with candles over the Christmas period. Last year AXA saw a claim for over £6,000 when a draught caused a string of Christmas cards to fall onto a candle, setting alight the tablecloth and causing damage to the dining room and living room. But despite the obvious risks around a quarter of people who use them don't think to blow out candles or turn off Christmas lights (another big fire risk) when they go to bed or leave the house.

6) Decorations - think before you get up that ladder or start dragging decorations out of the loft. Only half of Brits (49%) think about the damage they might cause when hanging out the tinsel, yet every year AXA sees claims where a trip to the loft for a harmless box of baubles has resulted in a foot through the ceiling or damaged furniture as decorations are hung with reckless abandon.

7) Turkeys - 20% of Brits have burnt food over the Christmas period and only just over half (59%) think they take the care they should do when cooking the Chrismas lunch. While a ruined Christmas dinner is a shame, more serious consequences of carelessness around the kitchen can be a devastating house fire. One AXA customer last year experienced over £700 worth of damage when the Christmas lunch went awry.

8) Toys - 20% of us have broken new toys and gifts over the Christmas period.

9) Electrical gadgets - Only a third of Brits (38%) actually read the instructions or take proper care when they try out new electrical gadgets and toys. Playing with electricity can cause damage to your home and even worse yourself.

10) Booze - To many, Christmas wouldn't be the same without it, but over a third of us will spill it over our carpets during the festive period - and red wine could mean the shag pile is ruined for ever.

11) The best china and crystal - probably only ever taken out of the cupboard for special occasions such as Christmas. But 32% of us have broken crockery and glasses over the Christmas period.

AXA's Nel Mooy says: "We want people to have a good time but getting carried away with the Christmas spirit can often lead to accidents. The consequences can be costly or worse still, involve spending some of your precious holiday dealing with your insurance company!"