We all know how important it is to be vigilant against opportunistic burglars at this time of year, particularly with so many festive goodies filling your home. But do you know what kind of loot those burglars will be on the prowl for? According to research from Aviva, things have changed dramatically in recent years…
Analysis of their claims data shows that, over the last 10 years, Christmas theft claims have moved from gaming kit to mobile tech, arguably in line with changing consumer preferences – and the changing value associated with it.
For example, the Playstation 2 topped the list of Christmas thefts back in 2004, but last year the most-stolen list was dominated by iPhones, iPads and related pieces of tech. By all accounts, the pattern could continue this year, with even more expensive tech (such as the iPhone 6 and Macbooks) likely to be on the Christmas list and under the tree for the big day.
However, as well as knowing the kind of tech burglars could be after, it's also important to know when they'll want to hit, and it seems that many will wait for festive revellers to leave their homes on New Year's Eve, with household theft claims increasing by 8% compared with an average day.
"The past 10 years have seen a big change in the type and cost of presents given at Christmas," said Simon Warsop of Aviva. "Expensive phones, tablets and laptops are now the must-have items. But this kind of high value, small size tech is exactly what thieves are looking for.
"Thieves will take advantage of empty houses, party noise and fireworks as people celebrate late into the night on New Year's Eve. So if you're going out to party, make sure you leave lights on and secure all windows and doors, including those on your garage and sheds. Otherwise those special Christmas presents may end up being a gift for someone else."
It isn't just burglars you need to be wary of during the festive season, either. Even though burglary claims actually drop on Christmas Day (down by 60%), it's the worst day of the year for fire claims, which rise by a worrying 120% thanks to all the extra cooking, candles, fairy lights and overloaded sockets. There's a 50% increase in fire claims on New Year's Eve, too, arguably down to the fireworks, while malicious damage claims rise by 66%.
And what about Christmas car claims? In the week leading up to Christmas, car insurance claims rise by 20% compared with other days in December, as there are more people on the roads who are rushing around to get last-minute items. However, the days between Christmas and New Year have the lowest number of car accidents in the year, and even car thieves take some time off, with motor theft claims similarly dropping during the period.
While there are plenty of practical things you can do to reduce your chances of making an insurance claim – such as switching off fairy lights, keeping an eye on candles, not leaving presents in full view of the window and (if possible) leaving lights or the radio on when you're partying so burglars think you're at home – one of the most important things you can do is check you've got the right kind of insurance cover.
Many insurers automatically increase the level of cover you get at this time of year (typically by 10%) to account for the rise in high-value items in your home, but it's important to check the small print so you know exactly what you're covered for. If it isn't as comprehensive as you hoped, make sure to compare alternative insurance policies, and that way you can be sure you're getting the deal that's right for you.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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