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Homeowners urged to check insurance to ensure they’re covered for festive mishaps

Fires sparked by Christmas tree lights may be covered but injuries putting up decorations or gifts stolen from the car boot often aren’t

Homeowners are being urged to check the small print of their home and car insurance in the run-up to Christmas to ensure they’re covered for any festive mishaps.

Otherwise, families could unwittingly find they are not covered in the event of a Christmas claim.

This is according to Peopl Insurance (, a nationwide provider of home insurance.

“In particular, homeowners should check if their home insurance will cover them if Christmas tree lights lead to a fire in the home,” said Paul Walsh, CEO of Peopl Insurance.

“Insurers will generally cover fire damage if Christmas tree lights set your tree – and home – on fire, even if the lights are faulty. However, insurers generally don’t cover any damage or loss that is caused by faulty workmanship or design and wear and tear – so if it is established that it was faulty Christmas tree lights that set your house on fire, you could possibly run into trouble getting a pay out – depending on how hard a line your insurer takes on this.”

“It’s very important therefore that you check your tree lights for any defects, including any loose connections or frayed wiring. Only buy Christmas tree lights with a genuine CE mark on them as this means they comply with European safety standards. Furthermore, only buy your lights from reputable stores and don’t buy second-hand lights unless you get them professionally checked. These simple rules of thumb will not only help you when it comes to insurance, they could also save your life and the lives of those dear to you.”

Peopl also urged homeowners to check their outdoor lights before putting them up – and to get help when putting such lights up, particularly if going up on a ladder to do so.

“Recent years have seen more people put up outdoor lights around their homes – and in their gardens,” said Walsh. “Check your outdoor lights for any faults before you put them up – if you have used them before. As these are exposed to the elements, they are prone to damage. Know too that most home insurance policies won’t cover you for injuries sustained when putting up Christmas lights or decorations in your home – because accidents at home which involve a family or household member are generally not covered by house insurance.”

Other festive insurance advice which Peopl has ahead of Christmas include:

  • Be careful about leaving Christmas gifts in the boot of your car. Some car insurers will cover you if presents or other items are stolen from your car boot, but not all will. Even where car insurers cover the theft of gifts from your boot, you’ll usually only get a fraction of the cost of those gifts back in the event of a claim.
  • One of the most common house insurance claims to arise over the festive season is for the damage caused by a Christmas tree in your living room falling over[1]. TVs often get damaged over Christmas – after an unstable Christmas tree falls on it. Such damage may be automatically covered by your home insurance – though check your policy in case accidental damage to the contents in your home is not covered. You may have to pay extra for accidental cover to be insured.
  • Make sure to turn your alarm on when you leave the house over the festive season. Otherwise, your home insurer could refuse to cover you – because there might be a condition in your home insurance policy which states that you should have your alarm turned on each time you leave the house.
  • Most home insurers automatically increase the amount of cover in place for the contents in your home in the run-up to and over Christmas – to cover the gifts you would typically have in your home over the festive season. You should check how long this extra cover, which is usually in the region of 10pc to 20pc, is in place for. Some insurers have this extra Christmas cover in place for the whole of December and January, others just for the month of December. Bear in mind though that if you have a particularly valuable gift sitting under the tree – such as an expensive ring or valuable painting, let your insurer know as you may need to insure this separately.

With house fires more common during the winter – and burglaries also likely to spike during the long dark evenings, Peopl is urging families to take extra precautions over the Christmas.

“The Gardai Siochana have recently urged homeowners to ‘lock up’ and ‘light up’ their homes so as to deter burglars over the winter,” said Mr Walsh. “Another way to keep your home safe from burglars is to leave your ironing board up with a pile of clothes on it as this is known to deter burglars.”

Peopl is also urging homeowners to run a few checks to prevent a Christmas catastrophe – and the heartache which could come with that.

“Many of us will be using our gas boilers extensively over the winter period, and Christmas candles will be commonplace in homes the length and breadth of the country in the coming weeks,” said Mr Walsh. “Check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working – and if you have neither of these alarms, make it your priority to get and fit the correct number of alarms for your size of home.”

“When it comes to maintaining heating appliances and preventing build-up of carbon monoxide in the home, don’t take any short cuts. Make sure all your fuel-burning appliances are installed by a qualified installer and get your boiler serviced every year. Ensure chimney and flues are swept/cleared annually and check that air vents in rooms and exterior walls are clear, open, and working properly. Don’t use any appliances you suspect may be faulty and try keep any areas for storing fuel well ventilated.”