Halloween is almost here, and with it, everything that makes the holiday so special. There’s the chilly fall air, and it seems as though there’s the grinning jack-o-lanterns posted at every door. Elaborate decorations and haunted houses are a fixture of Hallows’ Eve, as are the throngs of costumed trick-or-treaters.
If you’re past the age of trick-or-treating but still want to celebrate the holiday by covering your home and property with the spookiest props you can get your hands on—or even running your own haunted house—there may be some insurance-related risks you’re not seeing.
When setting up props or an attraction at your house, you want to be as safe as possible. But things can go wrong … and, if they do, you may be held personally liable for any injuries that may occur on your property.
Usually, personal liability insurance is included in your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Personal liability insurance can:
· Protect you in cases when someone is injured on your property
· Protect you when you damage someone else’s property
· Cover you if you are taken to court over said damages
All treats, no tricks
While Halloween is an extremely fun holiday, it also is something of a cocktail for risky scenarios. Trick-or-treating starts in the evening, with eager children and teens flocking the streets for free candy. Often, people cut through lawns in suburban or rural areas, to run from one house to the next.
It’s easy to see how things can go wrong. Someone could easily miss a decoration that’s on your property in the lead-up to your door, and trip and fall over it.
Remember, even a patch of uneven ground or a tree root that snaked its way above ground may catch an unsuspecting person unaware. It’s a good idea to do a survey of your property for any trouble spots before the big night, and either take care of them, or clearly mark them for all to see. Who knows, you might be able to incorporate them (safely) into your Halloween designs.
If you have stairs leading up to your door, someone might miss a step, and again, trip and fall. So, make sure your steps are visible.
If you live in a dark neighborhood, where visibility is limited at night, consider adding some lights around your property. There are a wide variety of Halloween-theme lights available—so you can choose something that is festive and safe at the same time.
Welcome to my haunted home … watch your step
While a haunted house is a way more controlled environment—often being a linear path where only a few people can walk through it at any given time—it still comes with its own set of risks.
Children, who may be experiencing their first haunted house, could run away from one of the scares you had planned—subsequently, they could run into something, injuring themselves. If you have volunteers for the house with mock weapons, they could accidentally hit or knock into someone if they are off their cue.
It is important to note that some insurance policies may not provide coverage when you run your own haunted house. This might be considered a commercial activity occurring in a residence. Before you decide to do anything like this, give your professional insurance agent a call. They can help you review your insurance policy, and check your coverage with you.
Halloween should be a fun time for everyone, but it’s always good to prepare in case things go wrong on your property. Speak with your independent insurance agent who can help you find suitable coverage.
PIA Northeast members can share a flyer on Halloween fire safety with their insureds by accessing Don’t be tricked by Halloween hazards in the PIA QuickSource library.
Matt McDonough is PIA Northeast's writer, editor and content curator. Matt joined PIA Northeast in September 2023. Before that, he had been an editor for the online entertainment magazine Collider from 2021-23 as a copy editor for its lists section. Matt entered the world of journalism at his alma mater, SUNY New Paltz, writing and reporting for the college's student run newspaper, The New Paltz Oracle. He graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Creative Writing in 2020.