Are you insured against Father Christmas?

For insurance purposes, Santa is no different to any other intruder…

By any definition, Father Christmas is an intruder. Possibly one with a large, semi domesticated mammal as an accomplice. So what happens if your property is damaged during his visit? Or Rudolph is injured while navigating your hallway?

Your home insurance policy cover is relevant for both these events. Firstly though, it needs to be established whether or not Santa has actually been invited as a welcome guest or, like a benign burglar, he has just taken advantage of poor security. The answer may lay in the tradition of leaving food for both Santa and Rudolph, typically a carrot and a mince pie. It can be argued that by leaving these items you are tacitly inviting him into your home. A “Santa Please stop here” sign is definitely an invitation!

As an invited guest, there is no cover against him taking anything from you. This is not likely to be an issue given that his purpose is the complete opposite. However, what if he knocks your iphone off its charger and it breaks? Or Rudolph is particularly taken with your Waitrose Essential carrot and causes a particularly fine piece of majolica to topple over? The good news is that such events will almost certainly be covered under the “Accidental Damage” section of your policy.

But what if he is not a welcome guest? The only alternative can be that he is a trespasser, and as such the damage described above could be construed as criminal damage. For a claim to be successful there should be forceful entry and this is where you may find yourself in difficulty. The insurance company may well take the line that Santa’s modus operandi is common knowledge and question you as to what precautions you took with regard to blocking the chimney. It is unlikely that they will accept not having a chimney as an adequate answer. You could then possibly go down the route of suggesting that magic was used in the incident. From an insurance adjusters point of view, magic is rarely used in their reports as a cause, though I don’t want to put you off completely if you are convinced.

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If you do make a claim, believing your loss to be a result of criminal damage, then the insurance company will insist that you notify the police. It will be down to them to decide how to investigate the incident. It is unlikely that you will be able to satisfy them as to forced entry, but it may be worth reflecting a little before presenting the possibility of magic being involved. The courts are no stranger to trials involving magic, however it has been over 300 years since they were common, so finding suitable legal argument may be difficult.

On balance, your claim is more likely to be dealt sympathetically if you do not accuse Santa of breaking and entering.

There is a section on your policy called “Property Owners Liability”. This section protects you from claims following injury or damage from third parties who are on your property and have suffered due to your negligence. The good news is that the cover is in place regardless of whether the third party is there by invitation or not. In short, it does not matter whether Father Christmas was there as a guest or a trespasser, if he or Rudolph injure themselves in your house due to your neglect, they can (and should) claim against you.

In such circumstances, you should take as much detail as possible about the incident, contact details and photographs are ideal. Santa is almost certainly self employed and should be carrying his own liability insurance details, which you should take. You should notify your insurer straight away and, after giving a statement yourself, it will be down to them to handle the claim. If an injury is involved, they may ask for medical (or vets) reports before offering a settlement.

It is not possible to cover all the possible insurance implications surrounding Santa’s visit, but this brief guidance should be enough to reassure you. If you have any questions about any of the above, just have a word with your broker or insurance company – I’m sure they will be delighted to help!

Merry Christmas