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An Ounce of Prevention: Tips for HNW Clients to Reduce Holiday Season Liability Risks

The Winter Holidays offer abundant opportunities for celebration in the form of travel, gift-giving and receiving, and entertaining. However, for High Net Worth (HNW) individuals, this season also increases their risk for being victimized. Thefts, vandalism, property damages, and liability claims increase for this sector over this time period. United Public Adjusters & Appraisers, New York’s preferred high net worth home insurance claims adjusters, offer these suggestions to our high net worth homeowners and business owners to ensure that their holidays remain both festive and issue-free. An ounce of vigilance will reap increased protection against exposure. To begin:

If Traveling:

Snow Birds and Snow Bunnies:

If left vacant in winter, ensure that their residence has been safeguarded properly. Water damage accounts for 20% of winter property insurance claims. That means making certain that exposed pipes are wrapped against frigid temperatures, especially in unheated basements, that hot water heaters are also covered in insulating jackets, and that the water valve has been shut off. Heat can be controlled remotely, but should never dip below 55 degrees. To reduce the likelihood of a break-in, in addition to a remotely monitored security system, local police can also be informed and the premises patrolled. Estate sitters are yet another option, and candidates should be thoroughly vetted.

Social Media:

United Public Adjusters & Appraisers would like to remind our HNW clients that their postings will be on public view. It is known that thieves frequent these online outlets looking for potential victims. Avoid mention of gifts that have been received or purchases that may be stored at your vacant residences. Mention of sightseeing, travel purchases, and menus from distant restaurants are also a tell that a residence may be unattended.

Be Prepared:

The worst time to have inventory losses is after a break-in when theft and vandalism has already occurred. Before traveling or entertaining, make a list of any new acquisitions such as artwork, or home renovations including carpeting, area rugs, kitchens, and appliances. Do not forget fur coats, designer clothing, and jewelry. For those with a wine cellar, superb vintages should also be inventoried and photographed. For newer, more costly items, take photos and keep in a fireproof safe or in a safety deposit box at a bank. Updating insurance coverages to reflect a residence’s current state is key to obtaining a maximum settlement from a carrier.

Entertaining:

Whether a family reunion or entertaining for a crowd with music, catering, professional lighting and seasonal decor, each exposes HNW homeowners to additional risk. When party planning, it is imperative to include considerations to reduce the possibility of fire, theft, accidents, and alcohol liability. To avoid the latter, a potential liability claim should a party participant cause an accident due to DWI, hire a bartender who will monitor guests’ intake, and have a car service/Uber lined up to ensure every guest arrives home safely.

As one of the leading high net worth home insurance claims adjusters, United Public Adjusters & Appraisers advises high net worth homeowners to consult our professionals as soon as possible. We want your holidays to be merry, bright and issue-free. For your continued peace of mind as well as protection for yourselves and your assets, we recommend that you schedule a confidential consultation with our team today. Happy Holidays!

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