Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us celebrated the holidays at home. This year, however, things seem to be a bit different. As restrictions – and nerves – have eased, it is likely that more Americans will travel during the holiday season. As I wrote in my last blog article, AAA predicted that the number of travelers on the roads over the Thanksgiving holiday would rise more than 8% over 2020. Not everyone, however, will travel from home during the holidays. Some may still be leery of crowds. Others may have a desire to continue a scaled-back holiday. Whether people decide to travel afar or stay home, the holidays present risks that can impact your book of business.
Over the River and Through the Woods
No doubt that drivers perform risky moves on the roadways throughout the year. Speeding, hard acceleration and hard braking all have seen increases during the pandemic, thanks in part to open roads and reduced traffic enforcement. However, the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year’s) can add extra stress and riskier driving conditions. Dangers on the roads are increased already thanks to longer hours of darkness and possible wintry weather. Add in the number of people out shopping and running errands, and the potential for collisions and fatalities rises. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that there will be 515 fatalities on the roads during the 2021 holiday season.
Speeding and distracted driving are not the only behaviors that can lead to crashes. Drunk driving is a problem we see on the roads every day. More than 10,000 deaths per year in the U. S. are attributed to drunk driving. Many of these occur around holidays, when people may be more likely to drink at multiple parties and gatherings. While DUI violations decreased in 2020 compared to 2019, the availability of vaccines this year may cause an increase and contribute to the NSC numbers indicated above.
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
There are more than 333.5 million people in the U.S. If roughly 50 million are expected to travel this season, then about 283 million or so will be staying put. 2020 saw most of us enjoying a smaller, quieter holiday season at home taking social distancing measures. And, while many of us are eager to resume our holiday season travels this year, there are many who may just decide that they like their new tradition of a more intimate holiday at home. To determine if there is a correlation between holidays at home and home insurance claims, we analyzed the data from our recent LexisNexis® U.S. Home Insurance Trends Report to see if there were spikes due to fire or theft. While we don’t see a see a significant rise in home-related loss claims during the holidays, the hazards relating to cause of loss seem to shift.
Every year around this time, news media publish lists of the most common insurance claims during the holidays. Luckily, they share the knowledge that Christmas trees are not the most common cause of house fires or claims. More likely causes are candles near flammable objects, and space heaters or other electronics overwhelming a receptacle. These types of claims are typically seen more during the holiday season because these are some of the coldest months.
We do see some seasonality in the data related to theft. This isn’t isolated to the holidays as we see similar seasonality during summer vacation/travel months. “Porch Pirates” always seem to be a little extra busy this time of year, though, especially with online shopping continuing to be popular. It’s a good idea to make sure your policyholders have sufficient coverage in case they fall victim to thieves, especially for expensive gifts like jewelry.
Be safe and be merry!
Whether on the road or home for the holidays, the festive season brings joy – and risk – to our lives. These risks can have an impact on your book of business and bottom line. While our Home Trends and Auto Trends reports do not yet cover a holiday-specific peril like roof damage from a staple gun used to hang lights as Clark Griswold did in Christmas Vacation, rest assured that during this festive time, and throughout the year, we will continue to check our robust data sources to help you better identify changing risk factors and better serve your customers. Happy Holidays!