What Does Halloween Have to Do With Insurance Deductibles?

halloween-prank-insurance-claim

During the Halloween season, pranks like an egged car or a broken window from a smashed pumpkin often become more common. If any of these, or another damaging prank, happens to you, you may want to consider whether or not to make a claim on your auto or homeowner’s insurance policy if your home or car suffers some damage due to Halloween tricks. Here’s a guide to help you decide.

Know How Your Deductible Applies to Halloween Prank Damage

Every homeowner’s insurance and car insurance policy comes with a range of deductible amounts from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000. That deductible is the portion of the cost of the repair or replacement of your damages you must pay before your insurance policy pays the remainder of any claim (and deductibles generally do not apply to the liability portions of your policies), according to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry-funded consumer education organization. A deductible applies each time you file a claim and is “deducted” from your claim amount so you don’t have actually pay the deductible to the insurance company.

“Because of the way deductibles work, it makes sense to be aware of your deductible amounts for each policy,” Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute, said. “Then, if you experience damages on Halloween, weigh the cost to repair or replace any damage against that deductible amount you’d need to pay out of pocket and whether that would cause your household financial distress.”

Should You File a Claim?

Even though policies generally cover your home and car for accidents, vandalism and theft damages (the category many Halloween pranks fall under), Barry said if you can financially absorb that amount, it’s usually not worth it to make a claim.

Damages to your home or car that may occur on or near Halloween — like toilet-papered trees or smashed pumpkins — can be more of a messy inconvenience than expensive to repair. When it comes to these smaller damages that may cost less than or slightly above the deductible amount to repair, Barry suggested keeping an emergency savings fund to cover these smaller repair costs yourself instead of making a claim on your insurance policy.

Keeping that insurance deductible amount in an emergency fund can help protect you from resorting to a credit card to cover any out-of-pocket damages and from making small claims that could cause premium rate hikes.

But if the damage is much greater than your deductible — such as a Jack O’ Lantern that causes a house fire, eggs on your car that destroy the paint or a serious burglary — that’s when you may want to resort to your insurance to help you with the repair and replacement costs.

When Making a Claim Can Cause a Rate Hike

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, car insurance rates can go up after you file a claim, although many insurance companies offer “accident forgiveness” as an additional perk so this doesn’t happen because of one accident. Rate hikes are usually reserved for collision claims or claims involving dangerous behaviors (like drunk driving), according to Barry. Either way, you want to be sure it’s worth it to file a claim for damage to your car from Halloween pranks, as making several claims on your auto insurance policy can raise your risk profile. This is something insurers use when it comes time to set your premiums.

When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, Barry said it’s fairly similar to auto insurance. Homeowners who file more claims may be seen as riskier to insure, so it’s important to keep this in mind during your decision process.

“Several damage claims in a short time period such as a year or two could trigger a rate hike, depending on your risk profile, your insurance company and your claims history with the company,” he said.

If you’re considering switching providers, it’s important to know that your claims are only part of what they may look at to determine your rates. Some providers also review at a version of your credit reports, so it’s a good idea to know where yours stand before shopping around. You can see an overview of your free credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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10 Halloween Decorating Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

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8 Tips to Help You Save Money on Halloween Costumes

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If your kids are like mine, they turn to you the day after Halloween and already know what costume they want for next year. Of course, that desire rarely stays the same come the following October, so you can’t really costume shop that early.

But once Halloween is approaching, your kids decide exactly what to dress up as, and you head to the store to see what you can find. Costumes can certainly be expensive. If you have multiple children — and if you and your spouse happen to dress up too — that gets even more pricey. You can easily drop more than $100, just on costumes.

But it doesn’t have to break the bank. We’ve got some awesome money saving tips that you can use to help you and your family celebrate the holiday, all while keeping the wallet happy.

1. Make Your Own

Even if you are not crafty, or can’t sew, you can still make your costume. Consider browsing Pinterest, where you can find all sorts of awesome ideas. Your costume doesn’t have to be perfect — it just needs to be fun to make. You can even find recipes to make your own hair dye, fake blood and more. Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas.

2. Visit Thrift Stores

Many times, you can find Halloween costumes for sale at your local thrift store. Sometimes they are brand new and other times they have been worn only once.

3. Use Coupons/Sales

Keep your eyes open and you can find costumes on sale. You can also use coupons to get an even bigger discount. For instance, Target often releases a Cartwheel coupon for 50% off of costumes, which can make for a great deal.

4. Reuse Clothes You Have

Take the clothes you have and turn them into a costume. For instance, wear a black shirt and pants. Then, create a tail and make ears and you’ll be a mouse. Put on overalls and a flannel shirt and put some dirt on your face and you could be a farmer. This is a good way to be creative all without spending much.

5. Swap Costumes

Swap costumes with a friend who has kids about the same age as yours. This is a great way to get rid of the costume your child wore only once for something like new. Best of all, everyone wins.

6. Be Flexible

You might want to dress up as a grand wizard, but the cost is just a bit out of reach. Change direction and find something that doesn’t cost as much.

7. Shop Yard Sales

Check out yard sales for costumes and costume ideas. This is something you may be able to do as the holiday approaches or something you might want to consider doing throughout the year. You might find a piece here and there and can build a costume from the bargains you find.

8. Shop at the End of the Season

This one may not help you with this year’s costume, but is good to keep in mind for when the holiday has passed. Once Halloween is over, many stores will offer holiday items at a deep discount, so consider picking up makeup, colored hair spray and other items you can put away for next year. Think twice before getting a costume your child may not wear or could outgrow next year. However, these may make for good dress up items, if they’re a good deal.

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The Best Cities for Trick-or-Treating

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It’s that time of year when we’re surrounded by pumpkins (and pumpkin spice), sweaters, haunted houses, costumes and, of course, candy. If you have children in your life, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about who/what they want to be for Halloween and trick-or-treating is only a couple weeks away. In an ideal world, we’d all be so lucky to satisfy our sweet tooth with free candy, but that’s not quite how it goes. But, hey, we can dream, right?

And that got us thinking about where the best places to get those delicious treats are. We all remember what trick-or-treating was like as kids, planning our route to get the most out of those few hours before our parents called us home. There was always that neighborhood you had to visit — the one that gave out the full-size candy bars. Sure, you may know where that is in your area, but who really has the best candy on the map?

Thanks to Zillow, we aren’t left guessing. The online housing marketplace released its eighth annual Trick-or-Treat Index, which revealed where kids may be able to get the most candy, in the quickest amount of time, and in the safest areas.

To do this, the Zillow economists looked at the Zillow Home Value Index to determine the median home values in cities throughout the country. From there, they considered the single-family home density (how close each house is to its neighbor), and the share of the population that is younger than 10-years-old. Lastly, they looked at crime rates.

So, grab your pumpkin bucket or pillow case and get ready to load up on all your favorites, especially if you live in one of these 10 cities.

  1. Philadelphia
  2. San Jose, California
  3. San Francisco
  4. Milwaukee
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Phoenix
  7. Denver
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. Seattle
  10. Columbus, Ohio

And, if you’re staying home to hand out the goodies to all the princesses and pirates who come your way, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t break your budget just to make your house the favorite stop on the block. You certainly don’t want one night out of the year to land you in credit card debt, when giving away those fun-size candy bars will suffice. You can see how your spending habits are affecting your financial goals, like maintaining a good credit score, for free on Credit.com.

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This Year’s Most Popular Halloween Costumes Are …

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Princesses be warned: Your reign of popularity among kids celebrating Halloween is over. 2016 is the year of the superhero, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2016 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey.

The annual review of popular Halloween costumes, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that spending on costumes is expected to reach $3.1 billion, with 67% of Halloween celebrants planning to purchase costumes this year. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach a record high of $8.4 billion, according to earlier data from the NRF. More than 171 million people are expected to take part in Halloween festivities, spending an average of $82.93 (up from last year’s $74.34).

The NRF’s costume trends survey, conducted September 6-13, asked 6,791 consumers about their Halloween costume plans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Here are the most popular costumes this year, broken down by age groups (and species), per the NRF.

Children

  1. Action/Superhero
  2. Princess
  3. Animal (cat, dog, lion, monkey, etc.)
  4. Batman Character
  5. Star Wars Character
  6. Tie: Witch & DC Superhero (excluding Batman)
  7. Frozen Character (Anna, Elsa, Olaf)
  8. Marvel Superhero (excluding Spiderman)
  9. Zombie
  10. Spiderman

Adults 18-34

  1. Batman Character (Batman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc.)
  2. Witch
  3. Animal (cat, dog, bunny, etc.)
  4. Tie: Marvel Superhero (Deadpool, Spiderman, etc.) & DC Superhero (Wonder Woman, Superman, excluding Batman)
  5. Vampire
  6. Video Game Character
  7. Slasher Movie Villain (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc.)
  8. Pirate
  9. Star Wars Character
  10. Zombie

Adults 35 & Up

  1. Witch
  2. Pirate
  3. Political (Trump, Clinton, etc.)
  4. Vampire
  5. Batman Character (Batman, Catwoman, etc.)
  6. Animal (cat, dog, bunny, etc.)
  7. Tie: DC Superhero (Superman, Wonder Woman, excluding Batman) & Star Wars Character
  8. Tie: Ghost & Zombie
  9. Scary Costume/Mask
  10. Marvel Superhero (Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, etc.)

Pets

  1. Pumpkin
  2. Hot Dog
  3. Bumble Bee
  4. Tie: Lion & Star Wars Character
  5. Devil
  6. Batman Character
  7. Witch
  8. Superman
  9. Action/Superhero
  10. Cat

Don’t Dig a Debt Grave This Halloween

If you have big Halloween plans this year, it’s good to keep in mind that overspending can be scarier than any haunted house. If you’re carrying a large credit card balance that you’re finding difficult to pay off, consider some DIY decorating and costume tips.

Remember, too much debt can hurt your credit scores, keeping you from getting the best financing terms available on everything from auto and home loans to credit cards. You can monitor your credit by signing up for your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days on Credit.com. If your credit needs some work, you can generally improve your scores by paying down those high credit card balances, disputing errors on your credit reports (you can go here to learn how) and limiting credit inquiries.

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Americans Are Going to Spend a Scary Amount of Money This Halloween

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Halloween spending expectations are soaring higher than a witch’s broomstick this year.

After a long summer and heightened consumer confidence, total spending for the spooky season is expected to reach a record $8.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. This is the highest amount in the survey’s 11-year history. More than 171 million people in the U.S. are expected to take part in Halloween festivities, spending an average of $82.93 (up from last year’s $74.34).

Costumes will likely be the largest spending category, with consumers planning to spend $3.1 billion on Halloween garb, according to the survey. And 47% of those surveyed plan to don costumes to celebrate the holiday. The survey found that 35% of consumers will scour the web in search of the perfect holiday tresses, getting inspiration on sites like Pinterest and Facebook, and the majority of shoppers (47%) plan to head to discount stores to buy their Halloween items.

According to the survey, 94.3% will be buying candy and spending $2.5 billion on it. Consumers also plan to spend $2.4 billion on decorations (49% want to decorate their home or yard) and $390 million on greeting cards. Many consumers (46%) will also be carving pumpkins. And all this spending will happen soon — most (44.4%) expect to start shopping in the first two weeks of October.

The National Retail Federation’s annual survey was conducted from September 6 to 13 by Prosper Insights & Analytics and asked 6,791 consumers about their Halloween shopping plans. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Don’t Get Spooked By Your Spending

If you’re one of the millions of people who plan to dish out some cash on Halloween, it’s best not to spend yourself into too much debt. If you’re carrying a large credit card balance that you’re finding difficult to pay off, consider learning from costume DIY videos to save some cash where you can. Too much debt can affect your credit score, and keep you from acquiring loans when you need them. You can monitor your credit by getting a free credit score, updated every 14 days on Credit.com.

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