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How insurance can come in handy on Black Friday

Posted at 11:54 AM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 18:07:27-05

Scoring deals on Black Fridaycan be an adventure sport: Hunting for parking spots, racing carts through clogged store aisles and dodging shoppers hoisting ginormous TVs. But what happens when you commit a foul? Or when you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s error? Here’s how insurance plays out when the trip to the mall serves up more than you bargained for.

Parking Lot Door Busters And Fender Benders

Be alert in parking lots, advises Paul Quinn, head of claims customer experience for Farmers Insurance. The number of parking lot accidents jumps 25 percent on the biggest shopping day of the year compared to a typical Friday, he says. Your car insurance will cover repairs to your vehicle, minus the deductible, if the policy includes collision insurance. If the accident was someone else’s fault, that driver’s auto liability insurance will pay. Your liability coverage will pay for others’ repairs if it was your fault.

How To Protect Yourself:

  • Moving cars collide: Photograph the damage and draw a diagram of what happened. “Most parking lot accidents are so hard to prove,” Quinn says. “A diagram can help determine liability.”
  • You hit a parked car: Leave a note with your name and phone number. Take photos in case the other driver exaggerates damage, Quinn says.
  • Someone dents your car and leaves: You can file a claim on your policy if you have collision insurance.

A Real Steal: Swiped Packages

More thefts happen on Black Friday, on average, than on any other day, according to insurance claim data from Travelers. Home or renters insurance covers items stolen from the car as well as from home. Remember, though, the policy’s deductible applies. If stolen packages were worth $900, and the deductible is $1,000, you’re out of luck.

How To Protect Yourself:

  • Stash packages out of sight in your car, ideally in the trunk.
  • Keep receipts with you, not in the bags you place in the car, so they’re available if you have to make a claim, Quinn says.
  • Consider your schedule when ordering items for delivery. The less time a package sits on the porch, the better.

Sales Slips And Falls

Slippery floors and stampeding shoppers give new meaning to shop till you drop. Your health insurance will pay for treatment according to the policy if you get hurt. Depending on the circumstances, though, the store’s liability insurance might also pay. But proving your injury was the store’s responsibility can be tough. “Slip-and-fall cases are some of the most difficult cases to prosecute,” says personal injury attorney Shannon McNulty, a partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. And winning doesn’t mean hitting the jackpot. Your health insurer will have to be reimbursed for what it paid out.

How To Protect Yourself:

  • Report what happened to the store. “Most stores have a process for documenting a shopper’s report of injuries on a claim form,” McNulty says.
  • You might consider hiring an attorney if you were unable to file a claim quickly or have trouble working with the store, she says.

Shopper Vs. Shopper Injuries

You didn’t mean to knock that guy down to nab the last purple Fingerlings monkey. But now you’re being sued. Liability coverage through renters or homeowners insurance may cover your legal costs and the other guy’s medical expenses, up to the policy’s limit. Liability insurance doesn’t cover intentional acts. If a shopper hurts you, follow the store’s procedures for reporting the incident and filing a claim. The store might be culpable to some degree, depending on the circumstances.

How To Protect Yourself:

  • Get help from store security rather than confronting someone.
  • McNulty suggests consulting an attorney if the store doesn’t cooperate or you think the individual should be held responsible.

Identity theft

About half of identity theft cases stem from a lost or stolen wallet, checkbook or document, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Amid the Black Friday frenzy, it’s easy to get distracted and let your guard down. Identity theft insurance covers expenses for repairing credit reports and restoring identity.

How To Protect Yourself:

  • Check if your homeowners policy covers identity theft. Some insurers include the coverage or sell it as an additional option for about $25 to $50 a year, the institute says. Many also sell stand-alone policies.

The article Black Friday Snafus and the Insurance That Fixes Them originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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