November 20, 2013
Secure your home before hitting the road for the holidays
Nationwide Insurance reminds members to lock up, create a home inventory this holiday travel season
Columbus, Ohio - As 93.3 million Americans prepare to travel to visit loved ones or go on vacation this holiday season, Nationwide Insurance wants to ensure consumers are taking the proper precautions to protect their homes and belongings while they are away.
It comes as no surprise that the holidays are a busy time of year for travel. According to U.S. Department of Transportation Statistics, the number of long-distance trips by Americans increases by 54 percent during the Thanksgiving travel period. The number rises by 23 percent during Christmas and New Year’s, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year.
Burglars can take advantage of these out-of-town trips to break into homes. According to Nationwide claims data over the past three years, there were almost 15,000 home thefts in the peak holiday travel months of November, December and January. As homeowners travel across long distances and for extended periods of time, they leave themselves more vulnerable to the occurrence of home theft.
“When gearing up for the holiday season, consumers often worry about getting the best deals on airline tickets, finding ways to avoid congested highways and finishing up their holiday shopping. But taking the proper steps to secure their homes before leaving for the holidays tends to be a last minute thought – if it’s remembered at all,” explains Pete Lore, Associate Vice President of Claims at Nationwide Insurance.
Nationwide Insurance reminds consumers to:
- Lock your doors and close your windows before leaving the house. In a Nationwide survey released this summer, conducted online by Harris Interactive in May 2013 among 1,005 U.S. adults ages 18+ who hold a homeowners or condo insurance policy, 25 percent of homeowners acknowledged leaving the front door of their home unlocked when leaving the house at least once in the past year.
- Install a home security system and turn it on when you leave. 20 percent of homeowners with an alarm system who were surveyed don’t activate it during the day, even though that’s when most thefts occur.
- Refrain from promoting your travel online; burglars can use social media to find out who is not home. Four in 10 (41 percent) 18-34 year-old homeowners surveyed post social media photos/updates when they are on vacation.
- Put a hold on your newspaper and mail delivery while you are away or having someone pick it up for you.
- Inform local authorities or your neighborhood watch program when you will be gone for an extended period of time. Ask them to drive by your house and check on it occasionally.
It’s important to recognize that even if you take the necessary precautions to protect your home, a theft still can occur. Nationwide encourages consumers to account for their possessions before leaving on trips by creating a home inventory. Nationwide found that 44 percent of homeowners admit they do not document nor keep track of their belongings. Yet, this can be one of the quickest and simplest steps to protect your belongings.
“It takes about as much time to create a home inventory as it does to wrap your presents,” said Lore. “Conducting a home inventory is a quick and easy task that can prevent a whole lot of headache down the road.”
To complete a thorough inventory Nationwide recommends taking the following steps:
- Use Home Inventory Software. The Insurance Information Institute has a free online program that allows you to catalog all of your belongings. It is available at https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html.
- Move from room to room, listing items as you go: Consider using this order every time you update the inventory. Don't forget to include the items in your basement, attic, garage, and any detached structures, such as a tool or storage shed.
- Use your credit card and checking account statements to confirm purchases if needed.
- Look for manuals on the items that will help with model numbers and verification of ownership.
- Work with your agents to complete the inventory. Call your agent if you are unsure if an item is covered by your insurance policy.
- Share the list with a trusted friend or family member in the event you can’t access the inventory or keep a copy in a bank safe deposit box or other secure location away from your home.
- Update your coverage: Share your current inventory list, including your new gifts, with your Nationwide agent to help you make sure that you have the coverage that you need.
For more information on how to keep your home safe and what to do in the event home theft occurs, visit our Safety and Care page or contact your local Nationwide agent. Consumers can also test their theft-prevention knowledge by taking Nationwide’s theft quiz.
About the Brand New Belongings Study
The Brand New Belongings Study was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Nationwide Insurance from May 21 to May 29, 2013. Respondents were comprised of 1,005 U.S. adults aged 18+ who have a homeowners insurance policy or a condo insurance policy. Results are weighted to the U.S. General Population adults ages 18+ in terms of age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for consumers’ propensity to be online. Research participants were drawn from the Harris Poll Online (HPOL) research panel. Because the sample is based on those who were invited to participate in the HPOL panel, we cannot calculate estimates of theoretical sampling error.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides customers a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, pet, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and specialty health services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.