Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

J.L. Sousa/Register

It’s holiday gift-giving time again. It’s also time to remember how to keep those gifts safe.

I’ll share three easy ways to reduce your risk of theft, and two easy ways to make sure your gifts are insured properly while they await their intended recipient.

Three ways to keep Santa’s gifts safe

1. Don’t store gifts in the car.

I know that I touched on this a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating.

Even with the increase in online shopping, you will likely still shop at a real store. You’ll probably use your car to get there.

If your car is broken into, your auto insurance may cover the cost of damage to your vehicle, but it won’t cover the cost of the items inside.

Make sure to not store gifts in your car. Bring them inside as soon as you get home.

2. Be ninja-elf sneaky during shopping trips.

If you are on a shopping expedition, you need ninja-like strategies to keep those gifts safe while you go from store to store.

First, make sure you don’t leave your newly purchased items in plain sight. Put them in the trunk or a locked glove box.

Second, don’t rely on blankets and coats to keep things hidden. Thieves will see the coverup as an invitation and break in to investigate.

Finally, here’s a cool trick. If you’re shopping at multiple stores in the same mall, and you bring items to your car between stores, move your car between trips. Thieves look for shoppers who drop off packages and go back inside the mall.

3. Keep your home looking occupied.

It gets dark earlier at this time of year in Napa. Thieves will watch for lights out.

When your home is dark, especially during the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s an invitation for “Bad Santa” to break in and look for gifts. They know that the gifts will be boxed and in new condition.

Two easy ways to help insure Santa’s gifts

Despite your best ninja-elf efforts, things happen. So be prepared in case of theft or loss.

1. Keep receipts and get appraisals.

You can’t properly insure what has disputable value. For most common gifts, like electronics, a receipt is usually an adequate way to prove value. Keep all receipts.

Some items, like jewelry, art, and collectibles, often need to be appraised to prove their value. Don’t neglect this step due to the busyness of the season.

2. Schedule coverage for expensive items.

Call your insurance agent as soon as you purchase expensive items, especially if they are jewelry, art, firearms, or collectibles.

Folks forget that there are often dollar limits of coverage on these types of items. These limits vary from company to company, and sometimes even from policy to policy.

Scheduled coverage (often called a “rider,” a “floater,” or an “endorsement”) can provide peace of mind. Often, “scheduling” an expensive item will eliminate deductibles, and extend coverage beyond just loss by theft or fire. It will also eliminate any surprises at claim time.

Talk to your agent this shopping season and let them help you insure your holiday gifts properly.

Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or