Don't let the Grinch steal your Christmas

Stolen presents, burst pipes and inadequate travel insurance can all conspire to put a dampener on your Christmas and holiday season celebrations.


Christmas. A time of giving, but also a time – for those with criminal intent – of taking. What could be more enticing for a thief than a festive tree surrounded by presents all thoughtfully gift wrapped and ready to go?

Wrapped but not covered

Fortunately, that vintage watch, or custom jewellery piece you carefully selected will be insured under your household contents policy if the worst should happen and it is stolen, goes missing, or is damaged – or will it? “Many people assume that gifts bought will automatically be insured under their home contents policy. It’s not always the case. While there might be an element of automatic cover for new purchases, it is always worth checking your insurance policy for items you have just bought and whether you need to advise your insurer,” says Nick Gavin-Powell, Head of Aon Private Clients.

It's not just at home that your gifts could be vulnerable either. “Carrying that Tiffany bag home or any other bag from an upmarket store, is an advert for a street mugger that you are carrying something of value. It’s always best to conceal such a bag or place it inside another to make it less obvious to a potential thief,” says Gavin-Powell.


Of course, many people choose to go away over the festive break which means the house will be left empty and vulnerable to risks other than just theft. The cold weather can wreak havoc by causing burst pipes and other water damage; some of the most common claims seen by insurers.

According to the Association of British Insurers, 2018 was a record year for storm, flood and burst pipe damage. In the first three months of 2018, insurers dealt with 86,000 claims from homeowners and businesses, paying out £194 million alone to homeowners – the highest amount ever paid out in a single quarter.1

The chances of a burst pipe or flood can be reduced through a series of simple measures. “It makes sense to leave the central heating on low – around 15ᴼC – while you’re away in the winter months to prevent a burst pipe, while also leaving the loft hatch open ensures there is less chance of the water tanks and pipes in the loft freezing. It’s also important to make sure gutters are clean and not at risk of overflowing and water getting into the house,” says Gavin-Powell.

Insurers are increasingly asking homeowners to install leak detection equipment which monitors water flow and can alert a homeowner on their smartphone or tablet of a possible leak. These systems are available from as little as £500 and can be worth the investment if they help prevent water damage to your home.

Travel safely

Don’t forget travel insurance either. Gavin -Powell says: “If you’ve paid £20,000 for a winter break in the Caribbean, make sure your travel insurance offers cancellation cover if, for any reason such as illness, you’re unable to travel. Also make sure the insurance covers you and your family for any particular activities that you might take part in. For those who prefer hitting the slopes to lying on the beach, coverage for winter sports is essential.”

Share your memories (when you get home)

It’s also important not to advertise your absence from home. “Posting pictures on social media while on holiday can alert criminals to your absence and make your home vulnerable to burglars. Perhaps wait until you get home to share those holiday snaps,” says Gavin-Powell.

For further information on the issues covered by this article, please contact Aon Private Clients on 0330 1271 543 or visit our Private Clients page


Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article. This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 12/12/18.

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