Turkey Day Terrors: How to Avoid Homeowners Insurance Claims on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. It’s also a time when homeowners insurance claims can spike. If you can avoid these disasters this Thanksgiving, you’ll have one more thing to be thankful for.

Turkey Day Terror Number One: Fire

It’s not Thanksgiving without a feast, but all that cooking can increase the risk of a house fire. Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to approximately 2,400 residential fires on Thanksgiving Day alone. These fires are responsible for five deaths, 25 injuries and $19 million in property loss.

  • Be careful with your deep-fried turkey. It’s delicious, but it can also be dangerous. Follow the safety instructions carefully.
  • Avoid distracted cooking. A fire can start in an instant. When you’re cooking, don’t leave the kitchen unattended.

Turkey Day Terror Number Two: Alcohol-Infused Accidents

Many people like to enjoy a drink – or more – with their feast, but too much alcohol can increase the risk of injuries. If a guest is injured in your home – for example, by falling down the stairs or tripping over their own feet – you could be on the hook for the associated costs. The good news is that homeowners insurance includes liability coverage. Still, it’s better to prevent injuries by exercising some commonsense moderation and safety practices.

But if your guests do drink, it’s better to keep them at home and off the roads. Because of the spike in drunk driving, the Thanksgiving holiday period is one of the deadliest times on the road. Between 2012 and 2016, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Turkey Day Terror Number Three: Food Poisoning

Food poisoning creates another potential liability issue. If your guests get sick from your food, you could be liable. Prevent this disaster by practicing safe cooking. For example:

  • Don’t wash the turkey. According to the USDA, doing so spreads bacteria.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the turkey. The USDA says it should register 165°F at the innermost part of the wing, the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast.
  • Be careful with leftovers. Leaving food at room temperature can increase the risk of food poisoning.
  • Watch the stuffing. Stuffing cooked in the bird can absorb bacteria along with flavor. Make sure it reaches 165°F, too.

Turkey Day Terror Number Four: Burglary

Don’t think you can avoid disasters by leaving home. If you’re traveling for the holidays, you may be increasing your risk of burglary.

  • Don’t announce that your house is empty. Posting about your travel plans on social media can act as an invitation to burglars. Save the social posts for when you return from your Thanksgiving holiday trip. Also avoid leaving other signs that the house is empty, including a pile of newspapers on your driveway.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check on your house. Your friend can collect any newspapers or fliers gathering outside your door and notify you – and the police – if anything seems amiss.
  • Secure your home. You need good locks on the doors and windows. Sliding glass doors can provide an easy entrance for burglars, so make sure yours are secured. Consider installing an alarm system.
  • Secure your valuables. Don’t leave jewelry and documents with sensitive information in sight. Keep them hidden, ideally in a locked drawer or safe.

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Sources
  • https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/reports/snapshot_thanksgiving.html

  • https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/make-it-table-dont-drink-and-drive-thanksgiving-eve

  • https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2016/11/21/usdas-five-tips-food-safe-thanksgiving

  • https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/turkey-basics-stuffing/ct_index

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