NEW YORK, December 9, 2003 - One quarter of all home burglaries occur during the winter months, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). That's when many homeowners are out-of-town for the holidays. Crooks will steal electronics and jewelry, even the presents under your tree! The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), urges everyone to make sure their homes are not an "easy mark" for thieves determined to steal their holiday joy.
"By taking some simple precautions, homeowners can prevent burglaries at this hectic time of year," says Alejandra Soto, spokesperson for the I.I.I. "This is a time of good cheer. We want to help homeowners keep it that way."
Residential burglaries accounted for 65.8 percent of all reported burglaries in 2002, with a third of those occurring during the months of November through January, according to the FBI. Furthermore, insurers pay over one billion dollars in homeowners insurance claims each year. Residential burglaries average $1,381 in losses per burglary, notes the I.I.I.
"We've seen the number of burglaries nationally rise slightly in past years," says Soto. "The struggling economy has influenced that to some extent. Add the surge in consumer spending that accompanies the holidays and it is a recipe for greater homeowner vulnerability and risk."
To keep your home safe, follow these preventive measures:
If you plan on traveling out of town, follow these additional steps:
Theft of personal possessions and damage to the home caused by a break-in is covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you have replacement cost coverage it will replace a stolen item without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value coverage will pay only what the stolen item is worth today. With replacement cost, which is only about 10 percent more than actual cash value, damaged property is replaced without deducting for depreciation.
Most insurance companies provide discounts to policyholders who invest in home security. If you install dead-bolt locks on your exterior doors, you can obtain a discount of two to five percent. A sophisticated alarm system could result in an insurance discount between 15 to 20 percent.
For information on homeowners or insurance issues access the I.I.I.'s Web site at http://www.iii.org. The I.I.I. is a nonprofit communications organization sponsored by the property/casualty insurance industry.