LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Pumpkins are an autumn staple, with uses ranging from jack-o'-lanterns to pies. However, Mercury Insurance reports that, in the wrong hands, pumpkins can lead to nothing but trouble, noting a substantial increase in property damage during the week of Halloween compared to an average week.
"Last year, we had nearly three percent more auto claims and five percent more homeowners claims during the week of Halloween, with our insureds reporting everything from egged and 'pumpkined' cars to creatively mummified homes," says Stephanie Behnke, claims innovation director of Mercury Insurance. "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 Insurance offers the following tips to help keep you from falling victim to a Halloween trick:
Park in a garage or well-lit area when possible. Otherwise, consider installing motion detectors in your driveway to turn on lights when someone approaches. If you only have access to street parking, try to park near streetlamps.
Light your walkway. This can reduce the likelihood of vandalism to your home as well as increase visibility for costumed visitors who may have difficulty viewing the terrain.
Avoid parking in deserted areas. Vandals are less likely to do their dirty work out in the open, so park in well-populated areas whenever possible. If you're attending a Halloween party in an unfamiliar neighborhood, ask the host for recommendations on safe places to park.
Activate your alarm. Car alarms are loud and draw people's attention, so use them to deter vandals.
Keep pets indoors. Some dogs and cats can become easily spooked by strangers or kids disguised in costumes and Halloween attire. Keep pets inside – or in a separate part of your home if you're hosting a party – to keep them safe and prevent any ugly situations where a pet can bite or scratch a guest.
If your car is damaged, many acts of vandalism fall under comprehensive insurance, according to Behnke.
"Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle if it's damaged due to something other than a collision," she says. "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."
Before filing a claim:
- Call the police. Filing a report provides you with an official record of the incident and, hopefully, the police will be able to track down the offender. Don't attempt to move or clean any of the damaged items until the police arrive and retrieve necessary information and document the scene.
- Take photos of the damage.
- Contact your insurer. Report claims right away to your insurance company. Mercury customers can call the company toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report a claim at (800) 503-3724.
ABOUT MERCURY INSURANCE (www.mercuryinsurance.com)
Mercury Insurance (MCY) is a multiple-line insurance organization predominantly offering personal automobile, homeowners and commercial insurance through a network of independent agents in Florida, Georgia, California, New Jersey, Arizona, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Since 1962, Mercury has specialized in offering quality insurance at affordable prices – core values that distinguish Mercury in the marketplace.
SOURCE Mercury Insurance