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Is Your Insurance Ready For Memorial Day?

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David M. Brenner, ChFC®, CLU®

D. M. Brenner, Inc.
Phone : (858) 345-1001
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Whether you’re taking a trip this Memorial Day or looking to lounge in your backyard, it’s important to know whether your insurance is ready for the long weekend. Memorial Day is traditionally fraught with grill fires, dog bites and car accidents. Are you covered?



Damage From a BBQ Grill

Who doesn’t love a good Memorial Day cookout? Memorial Day is also the beginning of peak hot dog season, with Americans consuming more than seven billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

Even if you’re not a hot dog enthusiast but planning to fire up your grill for Memorial Day weekend, it’s a good idea to be aware of the problems that come with cooking over an open fire. Here are some of the most common grill-related home insurance claims:

  • Home fires. The month of May typically has the third most grill fires (behind July and June). Between 2014 and 2018, there was an average of 10,600 home fires per year due to grilling, which resulted in an average of 10 deaths, 160 injuries and $149 million in property damage per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Melted siding. If you grill too close to your home, you run the risk of melting, warping and even burning the siding. It’s a good idea to grill at least 10 feet away from your home.
  • Smoke damage. If you grill too close to your home and leave your windows open, smoke can get in and damage your ceilings, walls and interior.

Your homeowners insurance covers fire-related damage. But before you fire up that grill, it’s a good idea to check your smoke alarm batteries and fire extinguishers. 

Dogs and Parties Don’t Always Mix Well

About 63 million American households have a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners survey. But if you’re planning on having a small gathering on Memorial Day weekend, be mindful of your furry friends.

Most dog bites occur at home with dogs who are familiar to the victim. Among those bitten, children are more likely than adults and one in five dog bites require medical attention.

The average nationwide cost for a dog bite claim was $50,425 in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

If your dog bites someone and causes injuries, the insurance consequences can be severe. You could end up paying higher home insurance premiums, having to exclude your dog from your home insurance policy, or even have your policy non-renewed.

Any dog can bite, particularly when it’s scared, nervous, playing or protecting toys, when they aren’t feeling well and when they want to be left alone. Fortunately, most dog bites are preventable.

The CDC offers the following tips to prevent dog bites:

  • Always ask if it’s OK to pet someone else’s dog, even if it appears to be friendly.
  • Let a new dog approach you first. Remain still and allow the dog to feel comfortable. Allow the dog to see and sniff you before you pet it.
  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, stay calm and avoid direct eye contact. Say “no” or “go home” in a firm, deep voice and stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Slowly raise your hands to your neck with your elbows in and wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away.
  • Do not let your children play with a dog without supervision.
  • Do not disturb a dog while it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog if it seems to be hiding or seeking alone time.
  • Do not continue to pet a dog if it seems scared or angry.
  • Do not encourage your dog to roughhouse or play aggressively.
  • Do not make loud noises, panic or run from a dog.
  • If you are a dog owner, keep your dog on a leash while in public.

If you are bitten by a dog, the CDC recommends washing minor wounds with soap and water, applying an antibiotic cream, and covering the wound with a clean bandage. If the wound is deep, seek medical attention.

And don’t forget about mishaps that might affect your pet, such as a torn ligament while playing or getting sick from eating a toxic substance. Pet insurance is a way to help cover big vet bills for accidents and illnesses. 

Pool Danger

With warmer weather and the summer upon us, many Americans will be flocking to pools, oceans, lakes and other bodies of water to cool off. Unfortunately, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, with nearly 10 non-boating related unintentional drowning deaths per day, according to the CDC.

Children between ages 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates and most drownings occur in home swimming pools.

But it’s not only children you need to worry about. Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation among adolescents and adults.

If you own a pool, you’ll want to take some extra precautions, including installing a four-sided fence that completely separates the pool from your yard and house. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that are out of a child’s reach. You can also consider additional safety measures like automatic door locks and alarms if someone enters the pool area.

If swimming is on your agenda for Memorial Day, the CDC offers these water safety tips.

Protect Your Interests After a Car Accident

Traditionally, Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest times on U.S. roadways. It is also one of the most deadly.

There was an average of 361 motor-vehicle deaths on Memorial Day weekend between 2013-2018, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council (NSC) of data from the National Center for Health Statistics and National Highway Traffic Safety Safety Administration. That makes for a 9.4% increase in motor vehicle deaths compared to non-holiday weekends.

Alcohol consumption is a major contributing factor to car crashes. More than one-third (37%) of fatal accidents during the 2018 Memorial Day weekend involved an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the most recent data from NSC. That’s a significant increase compared to the annual average (29%) of alcohol-impaired fatal accidents in 2018.

Seat belts for you and your passengers are one of the most effective ways to prevent fatal car crashes. The NSC estimates that lap and shoulder belts reduce front seat passenger car occupant deaths by 45%.

Having good car insurance is essential to Memorial Day travel. If you get into an accident, the right mix of coverage types will cover car repair bills, medical bills for injuries and even a tow truck if your car is disabled. Here are a few coverage types to consider:

  1. Car liability insurance. This coverage pays for injuries and property damage to others, such as medical bills if you cause a car accident. Car owners are required to have liability insurance in most states. A good rule of thumb is to have enough liability insurance to cover what can be taken from you in a lawsuit.
  2. Collision and comprehensive insurance. This pays for car repair bills for a whole host of problems that could happen while you’re traveling—including damage ton your own vehicle, fire, car theft, floods, flying debris and collisions with animals.
  3. Roadside assistance insurance. If your car is disabled with a dead battery or flat tire, or you’re locked out of the car, this pays to help get you back on the road. Services covered can include a tow truck, jump-start or locksmith.

Fortunately, most insurance companies have embraced the digital age and you can usually file a car insurance claim from your couch.

Car Thefts Heat Up

While you might be taking it easy this Memorial Day, car thieves likely won’t take the day off. Memorial Day was the seventh-highest car theft holiday in 2019, according to the most recent data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). There were 2,162 car thefts on Memorial Day 2019 compared to 2,320 thefts on New Years Day, the most thefts of any holiday that year. 

Comprehensive insurance covers stolen cars. The NICB recommends “four layers of protection” to help deter car theft:

  • Common sense: Don’t make it easy for thieves. Remove your keys from the ignition, lock your doors and close your windows, and park in a well-lit area.
  • Warning device: Use a visible or audio device to alert thieves that your car is protected, such as car alarms, steering wheel collars, wheel locks, theft deterrent decals and VIN etching.
  • Anti-theft devices: Devices include smart keys, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, wireless ignition authentication, and starter, ignition and fuel pump disablers.
  • Tracking device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or a monitoring station when a car is stolen. Some tracking devices use telematics, a combination of GPS and wireless technology that alerts the owner and tracks the vehicle.

By Jason Metz

© 2022 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved

This Forbes article was legally licensed through AdvisorStream.

David M. Brenner profile photo

David M. Brenner, ChFC®, CLU®

D. M. Brenner, Inc.
Phone : (858) 345-1001
Schedule a Meeting