Holiday Parties or Homeowners' Follies?

Hosts Seem Unconcerned About Safety, Liability

As it gets a chillin', it's the perfect time to strike the fire, and enjoy the company of family and friends. Opening up one's home during the holiday season is a heart-warming gesture. All the excitement, however, has some hosts overlooking basic safety issues.

According to MetLife Auto & Home's American Safety Pulse Poll, only about one-third of potential hosts are concerned about avoiding common safety issues, and taking precautionary steps to prevent unnecessary accidents.

This lack of concern is reason for big worry, considering the last two year's claim trends during the month of December. For MetLife Auto & Home, fire claims frequency increased by 12.5 percent in December 2009 and 2010. Theft claims frequency increased by 7.7 percent.

"The holiday season and transition to winter in many parts of the country generates higher frequency [certain types of home-related claims] than previous months," explains Tim Bowen director of homeowners' claims with Metlife Auto & Home. "We see theft frequency increases around the holidays with claim notices indicating that gifts/recent purchases were stolen. Heating systems are also being used with greater frequency at this time of year and we see more 'puff back' type losses with oil fired systems."

There are a number of everyday safety issues many tend to overlook while planning their parties.

Too Many 'Cheers'

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is an increase in alcohol-related car crashes and fatalities over the holidays. Yet, fewer than half of Americans or 42 percent are concerned that one of their guests would be involved in a drunk-driving-related accident after consuming alcohol on their property. Fifty-eight percent of respondents to the MetLife Auto & Home survey are not concerned about the potential to be named in a lawsuit, should a guest be involved in a drinking and driving accident.

Blazing Holiday Spirit

Decorating is essential to set the mood for festivities. This holiday season, 91 percent of people plan to decorate their homes, but many may be inadvertently exposing their home and guests to an increased risk of fire, if they’re not careful.

"Only 32 percent of those polled expressed concern that their decorations might pose a fire risk to their homes and to their party guests," says Mike Convery, chief claim officer and vice president of MetLife Auto & Home. "It’s important for hosts to exercise caution with their decorations, especially wax candles, as December has more candle-related fires than any other month of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).”

The Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas

Only one-third of those surveyed expressed concern about the theft of their personal belongings during a party. Many are inviting family (86 percent) and closer friends (74 percent) to their homes. Others plan on inviting less familiar guests, including neighbors (44 percent), co-workers (31 percent) and casual acquaintances (26 percent).

Not Home for the Holidays

Many people are planning a holiday trip, instead of a party, as is the case for 65 percent of those surveyed. However, 19 percent of the respondents said they would not lock all doors and windows before hitting the road. Only 61 percent said they would leave lights on or set lights on a timer system when they are away, potentially putting their homes at risk for a burglary.

This is the third survey in the American Safety Pulse polls series conducted MetLife Auto & Home by ORC International. MetLife Auto & Home, a brand of Metropolitan P&C Insurance Company and its affiliates, is one of the nation’s leading personal lines P&C insurance providers.

MetLife Auto & Home has compiled essential holiday party safety information here outlining how Americans are planning for their parties and some potential pitfalls they may face.


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