The Cost of Christmas
The weather is on the turn, the pumpkins have been binned and the end of the year is very much in sight. It can only mean one thing – Christmas is on the way! So while you’re thinking about your gift and wish lists, you should also be thinking about contents insurance.
According to research, UK households spend over £500 on average on Christmas. And it’s not just presents that hoover up the budget, a lot of that money goes on the traditional Christmas feast, the tasty treats, the drinks with friends and colleagues and an outfit for every night out.
The average spend dropped to a little over £400 in 2020, when Christmas was essentially cancelled. While we kept the Christmas spirit alive with good food and gifts, there was no need for party outfits, and drinks with friends were off the menu.
However, there are (currently!) no plans to curtail Christmas this year, so it seems likely that we’ll be celebrating twice as hard to make up for Christmas 2020 and the trials of various lockdowns.
But while we all know that Christmas can leave us feeling a little skint when we wake up in January, what are the other costs of Christmas that we just don’t consider until it’s too late?
Crime at Christmas
We’re talking, of course, about crime. While watching Home Alone is something of a festive tradition, the idea of burglars targeting homes over Christmas is very much a true story. We can only hope Kevin McAllister’s family had contents insurance!
There was a huge drop in crime, particularly burglaries, during lockdown. With everyone at home, burglary became almost impossible. However, as we’ve moved out of lockdown, crime levels have surged.
But burglary rates always spike over the festive season, starting as early as November and only tapering off in January.
The fact is that this is a period when criminals can guarantee that most homes will be stuffed like the proverbial stocking with pricey and occasionally hard-to-get gadgets. Usually, despite the no doubt dreadful weather, occupants are out more often than they’re in, running last minute errands or celebrating, so it’s a lot easier to get in and grab what they want. And if they’re very lucky, they’ll find everything they want all in one place – under the tree.
There’s also the fact that people often travel over the holidays. While people head off to visit family or jet off for some winter sun, burglars are guaranteed all the time they need to turn your home over. Even if you’ve taken your Christmas presents with you, there’s still plenty worth taking.
We also have the time of year to thank – darker evenings result in darker deeds and the low temperatures keep people inside nearby pubs and restaurants, where they’re less likely to spot anything amiss and raise the alarm.
In London alone, the burglary rate rises 26% over Christmas. Nationwide, December is the month in which most insurance claims are made.
How can you protect yourself?
For starters, however aesthetically pleasing it might be to display your beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree, it just makes it easier for burglars. Keep them well hidden! If you have children who can find them, then a burglar will have no trouble at all.
A lot of us share our lives on social media and while you may be excited to share that you snagged the last must-have gift of the season and that you’ll be out for a great party later in the week – this is essentially an invitation to burglars. Never share theft-worthy items online and only ever share your party or holiday pics when you’re safely back at home on the sofa, making it clear in your post that this is a #throwback.
We all worry about our bins overflowing over Christmas as delivery dates jump around thanks to Bank Holidays, but annoying as it may be – keep your packaging inside until the very last minute. Piling up the boxes outside only lets potential burglars know what you have inside.
Use any deterrents you have. Your burglar alarm, for example, is not only meant to be set when you go on holiday! You should set it every evening before bed and every time you leave the house. If anyone is watching, they’ll see you do this as a matter of habit and it will put them off making you a target.
Try to make your home look occupied as much as possible by leaving the lights on while you’re out. If you have timers installed, set them to turn the lights on as it gets dark, so that if you’re heading out straight from work, your house will look lived in (and a lot more welcoming when you get home!).
Consider investing in a small safe for high value items and make it a habit to lock those prized possessions away. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a lovely jewellery box, but it will keep your items much safer.
If the worst happens…
Ultimately, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from crime and we all want to enjoy going out and seeing people this year, more so than any other.
If you have taken all the precautions we have advised to protect your home and possessions, the last level of protection you can count on is contents insurance. The only thing worse than finding your home has been burgled is having to pay for damage and replacements out of your own pocket.
Our contents insurance not only covers you for theft, but also fire, vandalism and accidental damage. And yes, it even covers you for up to £2,500 worth of accidental damage to your landlord’s property, so it’s worth getting yourself an early Christmas present.