Local police and insurance agents say the real scare on Halloween is vandals targeting homes and vehicles for pumpkin smashing, toilet paper rolling, raw egg battering and theft.
“Last year, we had nearly 3 percent more auto claims and 5 percent more homeowners claims during the week of Halloween, with our insured reporting everything from egged and ‘pumpkined’ cars to creatively mummified homes,” said Stephanie Behnke, claims innovation director for Mercury Insurance in a news release. The company has agents in 13 states, including Georgia andFlorida. “Although these may sound like harmless pranks, they can cause significant and costly damage, so taking some simple steps to protect your property is no joke.”
Mercury is not the only insurance company in the Augusta area that sees an uptick in theft and vandalism during the week of Halloween.
For the past five years, Nationwide Insurance has averaged a 5 1/2 percent increase in auto and a more than 9 percent rise in homeowners claims related to vandalism, spokeswoman Elizabeth Stelzer said.
State Farm Insurance saw 15 percent more thefts reported last year on Halloweenabove its daily average. In 2012, such claims were up 28 percent, increasing from 16 percent in 2011, said spokesman Justin Tomczak.
Both companies said the best defense is a well-lit home and alert residents.
“Visibly empty houses are prime targets for vandalism or break-ins,” Stelzer said. “Most know the drill — always lock your doors and windows, stop your mail and newspapers prior to vacations, and put your lights on a timer.”
Before filing a claim, insurers recommend property owners notify their agents immediately, take photos of any damage, and file a police report to provide an official record of the incident. They also recommend not moving or cleaning up any of the damaged items until the police arrive and retrieve necessary information and document the scene.
Many acts of vandalism fall under comprehensive insurance, Behnke said.
“Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle if it’s damaged due to something other than a collision,” she said. “For example, if rowdy teens toss pumpkins out of windows or use cars for batting practice, remaining damages would be covered after you’ve paid your deductible, assuming you have comprehensive insurance at the time of the incident. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for everything on your own.”
Source: Insurance News Net