We’re all aware of the risks associated with Halloween like costume safety, inspecting candy, watching for cars, and being alert to the strange things people do on this night of frights. But if your home isn’t safe for your trick-or-treaters or party guests, you could be risking injuries, lawsuits, and other spooky things.
Following some basic steps can make your home safe for trick-or-treaters and help you avoid a Halloween disaster:
- Remove or repair risks around the outside of your house that could cause children to trip or fall like fallen tree limbs or a hole in the yard. These hazards could cause an injury and subject you to a spooky liability claim.
- Is your porch light burned out? Turn your outside lights on so children will know they can visit your home. What about lights along sidewalks? Good lightning will help prevent children (and adults) from tripping. In the same respect: if you are not in a scary mood, leave your porch lights OFF to indicate you won’t be handing out candy this year.
- Keep candles, flame jack-o-lanterns, matches and lighters in a place that children cannot reach. The concept of stuffing open flames into fruit and placing on your porch is a bit burned out these days. While candle filled pumpkins are fun to make, they can be dangerous. Consider looking at the many LED alternatives available instead.
- Costumes can confuse dogs and trigger defense reactions. Keep pets away from trick-or-treaters, especially if they are easily frightened or become excited in the presence of strangers.
- If you’re having a Halloween party serving alcohol, you need to be aware of social host liability; the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest. Be responsible and ensure your guests are safe to drive home, or even better, offer them an alternative ride. Aside from taxis and Uber, most communities have sober-ride services for hire. Your guests will appreciate the extra effort.
- Hosting a Haunted House? The inherent dangers of having guests walk through dark paths covered in cotton cobwebs and homemade decorations are numerous. It’s important to consider how your guests will be able to see, how safe the pathway is, and how they can quickly exit if necessary. If it is dark (as haunted houses usually are), be sure to maintain quick access to bright, overhead lighting in case something goes wrong.
Things Still Go Wrong
Even with the most thorough planning, things can and do go wrong.
You gave out pencils instead of candy, and now your property has been vandalized.
Let’s face it, kids are a tough bunch to please. For those who dare to confront conformity and hand out the un-candy, you’ll be happy to know most homeowner or renter policies provide coverage for vandalism to your home. If your car is damaged by mischievous Halloweeners, comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy should do the trick. Check with your agent to make sure you’re covered.
There is a fire in your home.
If a Halloween decoration causes a fire, any damage should be covered by a standard homeowners policy. If the fire is significant enough to make your home unlivable, you may also be covered for additional living expenses like hotels and laundry while your home is being repaired. Policies can differ, so it’s always best to contact your agent if you’re not sure.
A trick-or-treater is injured on your property.
If a trick-or-treater or Halloween party guest is injured in your house or apartment and decides to sue you, the liability portion of your Farm Bureau homeowners or renters insurance policy should cover the claim. Ask your agent if you’re unsure.
You crash your car into a tree to avoid hitting a trick-or-treater.
Of course, we know you will drive slowly and carefully, but if a group of excited trick-or-treaters darts in front of your car causing you to swerve and hit an object, will you be covered?. Accidents that do not involve another driver or pedestrian are covered under optional collision portions of an auto insurance policy. If another car or person is involved in the accident, the liability portion of your auto policy would kick in.
Fortunately, your Farm Bureau homeowners or renters policy can provide coverage for many possible Halloween-related disasters. If you’re concerned about gaps in your coverage that can put you at legal risk this Halloween, contact a Farm Bureau agent for a review of your policy.