Homeowners Can Prevent A Scary Halloween, Says PIANJ

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TRENTON—You’ve spent weeks preparing for Halloween. Pumpkins are carved. Bowls of candy sit near the front door. Costumes are ready. But, the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey Inc. asks: Is your insurance ready?

What happens if a child falls on your walk and the parents sue you for medical costs? PIANJ suggests you consult with your independent insurance agent to make sure you are protected.

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“You may be held liable,” says William R. Vowteras, CPIA,PIANJ president. “The liability portion of a standard homeowners insurance policy will most likely cover such an event. However, in order for that coverage to take effect, the homeowner must be found negligent.”

There are other insurance-related considerations for the holiday. What if your house is vandalized? What does your homeowners insurance cover? “A lot will depend on what kind of coverage you have,” says Vowteras. “Most homeowners policies cover vandalism. You’ll need to determine whether the damage is more than your deductible, or was it more nuisance than damage.”

What if you throw a party and an intoxicated guest crashes his or her car on the way home? Can you be held responsible? “It’s possible,” says Vowteras.
“Many states have laws that hold a host responsible for any injuries or property damage done by a guest who has left a party drunk. If guests become intoxicated, it is the host’s duty to oversee their transportation arrangements.”

In 1984, liability was expanded by the New Jersey Supreme Court so that homeowners now can be held liable for serving too much alcohol to a guest who is later involved in an accident, PIANJ warned. PIANJ recommends limiting access to the bar if minors are on the guest list. “You should verify your young guests are of age before you serve them an alcoholic beverage,” Vowteras warns.

Usually a treat for children, Halloween can pose special dangers to property owners warns PIANJ. PIANJ offers a few simple tips to make sure homeowners don’t get tricked this Halloween:

• Turn on all outside lights. Leave them on all night to deter vandalism;
• Make sure walks and pathways are clear of debris; and
• If a pumpkin gets smashed on your walkway, clean it up.
• Motorists should drive very slow all evening.

“If you have any questions regarding your homeowners insurance and the coverage you have, call your professional, independent insurance agent,” suggests Vowteras.

PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.


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