Aviva festive bulletin: home insurance

Kids in pyjamas with hot chocolate

‘Tis the season of celebration, gift-giving and festive food, but for some, the holiday season can end in calamity.

Aviva’s 2023 home insurance festive bulletin highlights Brits’ festive disasters, Aviva’s most common Christmas claims, and gives advice from Aviva experts on how to ensure the holiday season remains a wonderful time of year.

A new poll reveals that...

65% of Brits plan to celebrate Christmas at home this year. Aviva is urging people to be on their guard, as the same survey reveals the top ten festive disasters of Christmases past:

  1. Drink/food spilt on floor (28%)
  2. Broken an item at home while putting up Christmas decorations (16%)
  3. Thrown away personal items with Christmas wrapping paper (10%)
  4. Burglary/theft from home during the festive period (6%)
  5. Personal item lost or stolen at a Christmas party (5%)
  6. Put a foot through the ceiling while retrieving Christmas decorations (5%)
  7. Electrical fires from fairy lights (4%)
  8. Fire caused by Christmas pudding (4%)
  9. Fire caused by festive candles (4%) 
  10. Fire caused by Christmas dinner (3%)

Aviva claims data also highlights that...

The festive season is not without cause for claim. The most common types of claims are revealed as:   

1. Accidental Damage (~47%)

  • Claims data shows numerous damaged gadgets including a smashed iPad after it was dropped on the floor, a glass of water spilt onto a laptop and a damaged TV after a customer slipped on a small toy and fell onto the TV.
  • Several damaged TVs after games’ controllers slipped out of customer’s hands and smashed through the telly. 
  • Several damaged carpets and rugs from red wine spillages and knocked-over candles. 
  • Numerous damaged cookers and hobs from cooking Christmas dinner. 

2. Escape of Water (~24%)

  • Claims include flooding at a property after mice gnawed through three pipes. 
  • Data also shows numerous claims from leaking pipes flooding bathrooms, ceilings, and ruining flooring. 

3. Storm (~8%)

  • Numerous claims of damaged roofs due to stormy weather, including tiles ripped off roofs and water damage. 
  • A shed door being ripped off its hinges after being caught by a huge gust of wind. 

4. Fire (~7%)

  • Claims include breakfast waffles setting a toaster on fire.
  • Several fires caused by (over)-cooking Christmas dinner, causing damage to ovens and hobs.
  • Christmas candles setting fire to carpets, tables and mantlepieces. 
  • A grate left open on a fire accidentally set a nearby basket of logs ablaze. 

5. Theft (~6%)

  • Aviva data shows numerous break-ins to properties on Christmas day, while people were away from their properties. Stolen items include cars, bikes, expensive jewellery and watches (including a Rolex), expensive gadgets such as phones and laptops, and even all the plants and slabs from a garden. 

6. Property Other (~2%)

  • Numerous claims include a freezer that stopped working on Christmas Day, ruining all the Christmas food inside. 
  • A melted fountain pen after it was left on a hot plate. 

7. Impact (~2%)

  • Claims include someone reversing into a garage door causing damage from a tow bar, and a car rolling down a drive into a garage door after the handbrake was not secured properly. 
  • Aviva data also reveals several incidents of damage to walls, gardens and properties caused by drunk drivers crashing into people’s homes. 

8. Freeze (~1%)

  • Claims include several incidents of frozen pipes bursting in properties left empty for several days over the Christmas period, causing extensive damage to contents and properties. 

9. Malicious Damage (~1%) 

  • Claims include an attempted burglary to a customer’s house. Due to sufficient security of secure cast iron gates, the customer’s gates were vandalised instead.
  • Separate incidents of a brick, a plant pot and a bottle thrown through a window on Christmas Day. 

10. Subsidence (~1%)

  • Claims include cracks appearing in customers’ kitchens, garages, and extensions. 

11. Flood (~1%)

  • Claims include a river bursting its banks on Christmas day, leading to properties becoming uninhabitable due to standing water in a customer’s home, damaged carpets, and damaged lino flooring. 

12. Other Household (~1%) 

  • Claims include lost valuables, such as watches, phones, gold and diamond rings, and lost dentures after they were thrown out with wrapping paper. 
  • A mishap when taking the turkey out of the oven resulted in a cracked hob. 

Protecting your home and contents with the right insurance this Christmas. Top tips from Hannah Davidson, Senior Underwriting Manager at Aviva: 

  • Gift-giving is a Christmas tradition, but with a significant increase in household contents and their values, it’s imperative that customers have the right level of cover they need when it comes to insurance and protecting their belongings. 
  • If they don’t have unlimited or blanket cover, customers should check their Contents Sum Insured and ensure that they specify any valuables that are over the Single Article Limit, which is typically £2,000. Most Aviva home policies now have unlimited or blanket sums insured for cover at home, so there’s usually no need for increased cover limits. 
  • The holiday period can also be a good time for customers to revisit their policy cover and check it still meets their needs, for example, arranging up-to-date valuations for jewellery to ensure that if the worst happens, they’re fully insured.
  • As people might be out and about with new Christmas gifts, they should also consider whether they have adequate protection in place for their personal belongings, as things like mobile phones, bags, laptops, and tablets can easily mount up in value when the whole family is on the move at the same time. It’s important to check that belongings are covered when out of the house, and that the cover is high enough to cover everything people normally carry with them away from home. Items over the single article limit will need to be specified on the policy. 
  • When it comes to what is and isn’t covered by their policies, customers should be aware that despite being popular gifts, e-scooters and hoverboards are defined as motorised vehicles and therefore not covered by a home insurance policy. We would also urge caution if purchasing pre-owned products with lithium batteries, and ensure batteries and chargers are the correct ones for the device, as these can pose a serious fire risk if things go wrong.
  • But it isn’t just gifts. With visitors in the house and excited children (and pets) on the go, accidental damage cover is something customers may wish to consider adding to their policy if they don’t already have it, particularly as Aviva claims data shows 47% of claims on Christmas Day were for accidental damage. With Aviva contents insurance, customers are covered for freezer contents up to £1,000 if it breaks down or is accidentally disconnected from the power.

Hazel Johnson, Director of Home and Motor Claims, said:

“While the holiday season is supposed to be a time for celebration, Aviva data shows that for some, it can bring unexpected surprises, including accidental damage to property, burst or frozen pipes, broken down fridge freezers, red wine spillages, fires started by Christmas candles, and sadly occurrences of theft and malicious damage to properties. 

“Although some incidents may be relatively simple to fix, some claims can cause distress to customers over the Christmas period, especially those which involve fires, escape of water, or theft. 

“With this in mind, we urge our customers to stay alert over the holiday season, so they can continue to enjoy their festivities. This includes making sure that candles or fires aren’t left unattended, turning off water and securing properties if they are away from home. Aviva claims handlers are also available 24/7, 365 days a year, in case our customers need help and support across the festive period.”

1. 2,001 nationally representative UK consumers, aged 18+, were surveyed by Censuswide between 22.09 and 25.09. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. (Christmas Day claims across a seven-year period from 2016-2022) *Percentages have been rounded up. 

Karmen Ivey

General Insurance

Liz Kennett

General Insurance — Products and regulation

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK’s leading Insurance, Wealth & Retirement business and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in India and China.
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