The 12 claims of Christmas

It’s traditionally the most wonderful time of the year, but according to Aviva, happy holidays can also lead to household hazards.

The insurer’s data from December and January over the last five years* reveals a number of regular festive fiascos, with unattended candles, wayward decorations and over-watered Christmas trees leading to hundreds of claims.

To help put people on their guard as the big day approaches, here are some of Aviva’s most popular – and unusual – claims of Christmas past. Between 2016 and 2020, during December and January Aviva settled home claims for the following incidents:

  • 110 cracked TVs, knocked over while customers were putting up or taking down Christmas decorations.
  • 77 candle calamities, with candle centrepieces burning dining tables, flames setting fire to Christmas decorations and wax spilled on carpets. 
  • 68 carpets and floors stained or damaged by water from real Christmas trees.
  • 27 Christmas party mishaps where possessions were lost or stolen while customers were celebrating. Popular items included mobile phones, jewellery and watches. (Although perhaps a little less likely this year!)
  • 15 items accidentally thrown out with discarded wrapping paper. Lost possessions include spectacles, earrings and hearing aids. 
  • 11 feet put through ceilings while customers were getting Christmas decorations from their lofts.
  • Seven sets of fairy lights causing fires when they over-heated.
  • Six cookers destroyed while cooking Christmas dinner, with pans and pots dropped on hobs and hard-working ovens catching fire.
  • Five reindeer stolen from customers’ gardens – (ornamental beasts, not the real variety).
  • Four Christmas card catastrophes: a pot of ink knocked onto a carpet, a phone and a china centrepiece smashed while writing Christmas cards – plus superglue on a sofa while making handmade cards.
  • Two… gold… rings: one customer was making mince pies, so took off her rings while she was preparing pastry. Unfortunately they got thrown out with the rubbish when tidying up. 
  • And one case of Santa’s sleigh crashing into a house, damaging a doorway, when the horses pulling the vehicle were startled at a Christmas festival.
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Andrew Morrish, UK Claims Director, Aviva says

While Christmas may be somewhat different this year, most households are planning to celebrate in some way, and we expect many traditions will continue in UK homes. Our data shows there are some very specific claims we tend to see at this time of year, with Christmas trees and candles often taking centre stage.

“Our home claims come in all shapes and sizes. While some incidents may be mildly frustrating, there are others which can be truly devastating, particularly those involving fires. We’d urge people to consider whether they may be inadvertently putting their possessions – or even their homes – at risk. By being alert to the unexpected things that can go wrong, we hope our customers can concentrate on enjoying the festive season.

Andrew Morrish, Aviva UK Claims Director


*Data according to home claims information from policies underwritten by Aviva. Identified claim events relate to incidents in December and January, between 2016 and 2020.

Notes to editors:

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