Homeowners' insurance and the holidays

Reno, NEV (KOLO) Neighborhoods are getting into the holiday spirit with decorations all around. No doubt some of these homes have decked the halls inside as well.

While homeowner insurance claims don't increase this time of year, it is not unusual for us to report on house fires, and there can be a major culprit: a Christmas tree fire where the branches and needles got just too dry.

Candle fires do hit an annual peak on Christmas Eve and Day as well as New Year's Day; that's according to the US Fire Administration.

The average cost for repairs to the home during the holiday season run on average about $70,000. Homeowners insurance pays for home repairs and personal property.

If you like to install outside decorations, homeowner's insurance may or may not cover the medical costs of someone getting hurt. According to Farmers Insurance Agent John Barsanti, if you and your buddy decide to install the lights and someone gets injured, you're covered.

But if you hire someone?

“So you have to absolutely be sure the give you a certificate showing they have general liability insurance. And they have workman's comp insurance. If they don't have that they aren't covered under your homeowner’s insurance. Because you are paying them to come. And it’s business transaction. It’s not personal liability,” says Barsanti.

Guests who may slip and fall on your walkway will have medical payments covered within the homeowner insurance. There is also liability insurance in case you are sued.

Frozen pipes, too, are covered. And packages taken from the home are covered by your homeowners insurance if they are taken from the outside or someone breaks into your home. The issue gets a little dicey if they are taken from the car in a parking lot.

“The bad part about the car is the car has a deductible for the window where they broke in. And then the presents aren't part of the car. The presents are personal property so they come under the homeowner's insurance. So you come in with two claims there,” says Barsanti.

Barsanti says weigh the risks and benefits of making a claim. If only a couple of items go missing, the payout might be less than the deductible.