Holiday disasters: What does homeowners insurance cover?

Accidentally set your kitchen on fire? Have a holiday break in? Your home insurance policy can cover the cost of repairs to your home and may help pay for new belongings.

Kara McGinley

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.

Published November 4, 2021|3 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our

editorial standards

and

how we make money.

The holiday season is one of joy and cheer, but it can come with increased risks. Holiday disasters like house fires and burglaries often spike come November and December. Fortunately, your homeowners insurance policy can help you out if your holiday season takes a turn for the worse. 

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance covers many common types of holiday disasters, like kitchen fires, Christmas tree fires, and burglaries

  • If a guest gets injured in your home, like if they slip on a patch of ice on your driveway, your liability coverage can help pay for their medical expenses

  • Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues, so if you pour turkey fat down your drain and it clogs your pipes, you’ll have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket

4 holiday disasters that are covered by homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance includes coverage for your home and personal property if they’re damaged by a covered event, like if your cinnamon-scented candle causes a house fire. If the fire leads to your home needing major repairs, the loss-of-use coverage part of your policy can pay for additional living expenses, like a hotel stay, while your home is being rebuilt.  

Homeowners policies also include liability coverage. This covers you if you’re responsible for someone else’s injury, like if a guest falls down the stairs at your New Years party and you’re required to pay for their hospital stay. 

Below are some common holiday disasters that are covered by home insurance. 

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

1. Fire damage

Thanksgiving is the leading day for kitchen fires nationwide, followed by Christmas day, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). [1] There’s also an estimated 160 Christmas tree fires a year. And incidents of candle fires surge in December. 

Homeowners insurance covers fire damage, so if your house burns down or your personal property is damaged by a fire during the holidays, your homeowners policy can help pay for repairs. 

Here are some holiday fire scenarios covered by homeowners insurance: 

  • Kitchen fires

  • Christmas tree fires

  • Fire damage caused by holiday displays and lights 

  • Fire damage caused by candles

2. Stolen gifts, packages, and decorations

Homeowners insurance policies cover theft, so if someone breaks into your home and steals presents or someone snags a package off your porch, you’ll be able to file a claim with your insurance company. If someone steals your elaborate holiday display that’s outside on your lawn, that should be covered as well. 

Standard homeowners insurance policies also cover thefts that happen away from your home. So if a person breaks into your car and steals a bunch of gifts, you may be able to file a claim with your home insurer. 

3. Injured guests

The holidays can mean hosting duties. If someone gets hurt at your holiday shindig, the medical payments coverage in your homeowners policy can help pay for things like their ambulance ride or x-ray scans. Most insurers offer $1,000 to $5,000 in medical payments coverage. This coverage is designed to pay for a guest's minor-to-moderate medical treatments, regardless of who was at fault. 

If the injury is more severe, you may need to file a personal liability coverage claim to help pay for the more expensive costs of surgery or missed wages if the injury puts them out of work. Personal liability coverage can also help pay for litigation if the injured guest takes you to court over the matter. 

4. Identity theft

With the increase in online shopping during the holiday season, it’s easy to fall victim to hackers and scammers. In fact, a national survey by Experian found that one in four respondents fell victim to fraud during the holidays. [2]  

Some homeowners insurance companies automatically include identity theft protection in their policies, whereas others allow you to add it as an endorsement for an additional fee. Identity theft protection doesn’t reimburse you for monetary losses, though. Instead, it helps you get back on your feet after your identity is stolen by covering costs to reverse the fraud, fix your credit score, and get your identity back. 

Holiday disasters that aren’t covered by homeowners insurance

Not all holiday disasters are covered by your home insurance policy. Here are a few scenarios in which your holiday catastrophe won’t be covered.

  • Clogged drains or pipes: Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues like clogged pipes. That means if you clog your drains or pipes by pouring oil or fat down them, or overstuff your garbage disposal, you’ll have to foot the repair bills yourself. 

  • Intentional acts: Surprisingly, 8% of decoration fires are started intentionally, according to the NFPA. Homeowners insurance never covers intentional acts.

  • Drunk driving accidents: Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover criminal acts, either. So if someone drinks too much at your holiday bash and drives home, you could potentially be found legally responsible if they get into a car accident and injure a third party. This could be considered a criminal act, and your liability coverage may not cover you. This falls under what is called “social host liability” or “liquor liability,” and the rules and regulations surrounding it are very specific and vary by state and insurance company.

More about

Homeowners Insurance

What are the different types of homeowners insurance policy forms?

There are eight different types of homeowners insurance policies for various home types and coverage needs.

Read more

What’s included on a homeowners insurance policy?

Your homeowners policy includes different sections that explain what is and isn’t covered by your policy. It also thoroughly explains your policy limits, deductibles, and premiums.

Read more

What is dwelling coverage?

Dwelling coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance policy that helps pay to rebuild or repair the physical structure of your home in the event of a covered loss.

Read more