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Shoppers urged to check policies before they buy

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Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 3:45 am

As Santa stuffs his sleigh with popular or big ticket items this year, he may be in for a “Bah, humbug” unless he takes certain insurance precautions. Gift-givers may be “Scrooged” when they realize that some gifts may cost homeowners extra on their insurance premiums, or may not be covered at all.

As an insurance expert, AAA is providing a list of popular gift items that may be excluded from policies or carry a higher price tag:

• Trampolines. Insurers view outdoor trampolines as a high risk for personal injury. Therefore, some providers may not offer you liability coverage if you or someone else is hurt using the equipment. Otherwise, you may expect to pay a higher monthly premium, making that one-time purchase a monthly budget-buster.

• Certain breeds of dog. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about 800,000 dog bites require medical attention each year, with half occurring on the dog owner’s property. Therefore, many insurers exclude certain breeds from homeowners’ policies, leaving owners financially responsible for Fido’s behavior. Dogs with a prior bite history, regardless of breed, may also be excluded. Before Santa leaves a puppy under the tree, check with your insurance agent to avoid unwanted surprises.

• Fine jewelry, electronics, art or collectibles. Luxury items are not commonly excluded from homeowners’ or renters’ policies, but they are only covered up to a certain value. For this reason, consider listing these items specifically on your policy, or purchase personal property insurance to protect the full value of the item.

During the holiday season and throughout the year, AAA recommends homeowners do the following tips to ensure adequate protection:

• Check before you buy. Talk to your agent before making a purchase that may require special coverage.

• Protect your family. If you already own an animal considered high risk, ensure that your liability protection includes your pet. If your insurance carrier won’t cover the breed, consider looking for a special insurance rider to ensure you’re protected.

• Protect your possessions. Protect your possessions from theft/loss by updating your coverage as soon as you make the purchase to include these and other valuable items such as jewelry, furniture, electronics, artwork, etc.

• Update your policy, if needed. If you’ve renovated your home, let your agent know. If you update your home without updating your policy, those changes are unlikely to be covered under your current policy.

For more information, visit

• Linda Gorman is communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or

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