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Your Holiday Shopping Safety & Security Guide

November 20, 2014

The holidays are just around the corner. With most Canadians planning to do their shopping in November, according to a recent BMO study, now’s the time to begin taking precautions to ensure nothing puts a damper on your festivities.  Car theft and break-ins are already the number one crime in Canada, but the holidays add an additional layer of risk to your vehicle and the contents inside of it. That’s why it’s important to take precautions to ensure your presents don’t become a gift for eager thieves.

The following tips will help you stay safe and secure this holiday season and will provide guidance in the event of a break-in.

Purchase Protection

When shopping for gifts this holiday season, your safest bet may be to pay for your purchases using a credit card that contains purchase protection. Although all applicable credit cards have their own policy, this form of insurance typically offers protection on items damaged or stolen within 90 days of the purchase. Although stolen items are also covered under your property insurance, using a card with purchase protection may help prevent you from having to file a claim.

Parking Lot & Car Safety Tips

If your car is broken into, you may have to file two insurance claims: one through your auto insurance to cover any damages to your vehicle, and one through your property insurance to cover the loss of your gifts. This is because auto insurance does not protect against the contents of your vehicle.  Having to file two claims means you’ll have two claims on your record, and you may have to also pay out two deductibles. If your insurance is bundled, your insurance provider may let you pay only one deductible, normally the higher of the two.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help prevent from becoming a victim of theft and having to file a claim.

  1. Always park in well-lit and well-populated areas where break-ins are typically less likely to occur
  2. Always make sure your car doors are locked
  3. Never place presents in plain view
  4. If you are putting presents in your trunk and then returning to your shopping, take a few moments to make sure nobody is watching, or consider parking in a different location
  5. If your car is broken into, take photos of the damages to document the break-in as your insurance provider and/or credit card company may require proof of forced entry in order to pay out a claim. A police report will also likely help

Parking Lot Accidents

If you’ve ever tried to find parking at a mall during the holidays, you know these lots transform into zoos. Cars swerve in and out as people fight for parking spots, ultimately increasing your chances of getting into a fender bender. Like with any other insurance claim, your provider will investigate to determine who is at fault. If you hit somebody from behind, for example, the burden will fall on you and you will likely see an increase in your insurance rates.

However, parking lots are a unique beast. They often lack signage (though cars are still expected to stop) and they are filled with pedestrians, shopping carts, various other hazards, and countless other vehicles. Sometimes a vehicle may strike another and flee the scene. If you were not present when your vehicle was damaged and the other driver did not leave a note or contact information, your insurance provider will treat the incident as a hit-and-run. You will also likely still be required to pay the deductible.

Always use caution and vigilance when driving in parking lots or otherwise, but take extra precautions around the holidays. Pay attention to your surroundings, be mindful of other vehicles, shoppers and hazards, and don’t make it easy for thieves to target you or your vehicle. By taking a few extra moments to gauge your situation, you can help prevent having to file a claim—the insurance equivalent of a lump of coal in your stocking.