Don't Let Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Ruin Your Holiday Spirit
By Diane TaitAs I sit here writing this blog, there are only two more days left before Christmas. This is the time when panic sets in as shoppers looking for last-minute gifts clash with those looking for last-minute deals. As a result, the stores are jammed, the parking lots and streets fronting shopping centers are chaotic and tempers fray. In short, if you have yet to complete your holiday shopping list, you had better grit your teeth and get ready for a stressful situation that may rui your holiday cheer. What’s even worse is that as Christmas Eve fast approaches, the number of auto accidents, road rage incidents, and ER visits spike as well. To help you deal with the worst of last-minute madness, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s blog to gifting you with the five things you need to know to survive the final two days of the Christmas shopping season.
1. Santa may drive a sleigh, but you don’t. – That doesn’t mean you won’t wish you had eight tiny reindeer to fly you over the gridlock and fender benders associated with the season. To avoid the worst of the traffic in and around shopping centers, you need to plan your trip so you arrive before the herd does. This may mean shopping late at night in big box stores that keep their doors open to accommodate the Christmas rush. It could also mean biting your tongue instead of duking it out for limited parking spaces or shrugging your shoulders at the harried driver who cuts you off at the exit for the Outlet Mall.
2. Tis the season for road rage. – In this season of giving, some outraged drivers will be giving their rendition of the Grinch inside and outside the stores, as well as on the road. Instead of finding yourself in a confrontation that you may later come to regret, do yourself a favor by trying to maintain your cool instead of getting hot under the collar. If you’ve ever seen a YouTube video of holiday shoppers fighting over a coveted toy or watched irate drivers play bumper car in a jammed parking lot, you realize that no gift is worth a police citation or an auto insurance claim.
3. Accidents do happen. – If you are involved in a minor fender bender, make sure you document the incident and exchange insurance and driver’s license information. Even if the other driver is at fault and offers to pay to repair the damage done to your vehicle out of pocket, you need to contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. If you delay, you may limit your ability to file a claim under your policy. The at-fault driver may also choose to recant instead of paying up. So, make sure you use your phone to shoot videos of any witnesses who may have witnessed the accident. If you should come out of a store to find that your vehicle has been hit and nobody is around, make sure you file a report with both your insurance carrier and the police. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to see if any of the stores in the shopping center have video cameras outside, since it may be possible to pull an image off the recording that would show the car that hit yours.
4. Bumper bandits are a serious threat during the holiday season. – Many thieves ride around store parking lots looking for unattended vehicles brimming with Christmas presents. They think nothing of popping your door or breaking a window to get at the goodies either. That’s because the chances of either the police or store security being nearby when they make their move to help themselves to other people’s presents is slim to none. If you choose to hop from store to store to do some last-minute shopping, make sure you put all your presents in the trunk or cover them with a tarp if you have a hatchback. Then all you’ll have to worry about is having the vehicle itself stolen along with your gifts. To avoid that, give yourself a gift by purchasing a steering wheel security lock that makes it impossible to drive your vehicle, even if the thief can foil the alarm and start it. Another way to thwart thieves would be to install a hidden ignition kill switch that makes it impossible to start your vehicle.
5. Garage Grinches and Porch Pirates – You aren’t even safe from thieves in the comfort of your own home these days. Garage Grinches are thieves that cruise neighborhoods looking for unsuspecting homeowners who either leave their garages unlocked or leave their vehicle’s trunks open while taking a load of gifts into the house. All it takes for these sticky-fingered felons to filch your holiday gifts is 30-seconds flat, which is less time than it takes to take a load of presents indoors. By the time you return to your vehicle, the culprits are long gone. Porch pirates follow delivery trucks looking for l packages worth stealing. Two ways to thwart these thieves is to either insist on requiring a delivery driver to get a signature before dropping of a package or installing a lockbox that allows a driver to deposit a package but requires a key to remove a package from the box once it’s been deposited. You can also have your purchases dropped off at most big box stores where you can pick them up at your convenience.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on boat insurance, go to her site.