Would your insurance cover THAT? Christmas movie edition

Find out who can file a claim and who needs a Christmas miracle

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Christmas movies. Full of warm fuzzy feelings, hot cocoa drinking … and a weirdly high amount of property destruction. What is it about holidays on the silver screen that leads to utter chaos? 

In the spirit of the season, we wanted to look at a few holiday classics and consider if the damage inflicted might be claimable through your typical home insurance policy.

What is the average home insurance policy?

If you’ve seen our previous home insurance article in this series, you know the first thing we need to do is define what the average home insurance policy is. 

When it comes to your home insurance policy, there are two main types of coverage: open and named peril. A peril is a cause of damage to you, your home or your belongings. Named perils means every peril that is covered will be listed. Open means that you can assume that most perils are covered, and instead exclusions or what is not covered will be written in the policy. 

The most common type of homeowners policy in the U.S. is called an HO-3 which would cover your home and other structures on the property on an open peril basis. It would cover your personal property from named perils.

Now assuming our movie families have the most common type of homeowners policy, let’s look at a few favorites and guess which claims would be paid out by their insurance companies. (Warning: Spoilers ahead. Although this article mostly discusses damage, not film endings, if you haven't seen one of these, read at your own risk.) 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This 1989 film features Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold who is determined to make the perfect Christmas for his family — and ends up causing some not insignificant damage to his home along the way. 

In case you haven’t seen it (or to refresh your memory if you have):

  • He blows a circuit hanging Christmas lights and also damages an outside gutter after falling off the roof.
  • He knocks a hole in the ceiling after falling through the attic.
  • A SWAT team destroys the front door and multiple windows after a man is kidnapped and brought into his home.

According to one source, total damages might be in the neighborhood of $52,000[1].

Let’s focus on just one event:

Very likely not.

Assuming Clark has an open peril policy, he can check the exclusions on his policy, but a common one is acts of war or government associations which can include police activities. In this case, the police were acting on a tip that proved to be accurate (even if the kidnapped person ultimately did not press charges), so the damages will likely fall on Clark.

Home Alone

Another cautionary tale disguised as a Christmas movie: Home Alone tells the story of Kevin McCallister, mistakenly left behind by his parents who then must protect his home from two robbers. 

Kevin sets a number of “traps" to thwart the burglars that also cause significant damage to his family home. For example:

  • He ices the front steps to make the intruders slip.
  • He covers an interior stairway with tar.
  • And he rigs a hot iron to swing down and hit a burglar in the face.

One source estimates the damage caused to amount to around $11,800[2]. Intentional damage to one’s home by a homeowner (or their offspring) is of course not covered by any homeowners policy.

But what about the robbers?

Potentially yes.

We know that home insurance can cover liability for injuries to invited guests in the home and usually doesn’t extend to trespassers. However, in many states (including Illinois where the movie is set), setting booby traps is illegal[3]. Homeowners or their insurance companies can be sued for wanton misconduct that injures a trespasser. 

Had Kevin hid and left well enough alone, his parents could have filed a claim for the lost items and any damage caused by the burglars. That wouldn’t make for nearly as interesting a movie though.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Jim Carrey’s take on the title role of the classic Suess story maintains all the personal property theft fun of the original and adds a little extra destruction. 

This includes:

  • Lighting up a Christmas tree with a flame thrower.
  • Smashing a bed through a bay window.
  • And damaging several building exteriors. 

Total damages to Whoville caused by The Grinch’s spree are estimated by one source as around $191,000[4].

So let’s say you’re a Who. You have your personal property restored by The Grinch in the end, but you still have some damage to your home, can you file a claim just for that?


You can file a claim due to property damage on your dwelling coverage, even if your personal property is returned. There is a caveat though. Your home insurance will likely expect you to provide a police report, so if, for example, you as a town forgive the perpetrator in the name of Christmas spirit, it may complicate the matter.


Perhaps not your typical feel-good Christmas movie, but definitely a good example of property destruction. Gremlins tells the story of a boy whose pet spawns a pack of gremlins who wreak havoc on his town.

Their reign of terror leads to:

  • The destruction of a man’s home with a snow plow.
  • And the explosion of a movie theater (in an attempt to destroy them).

This one will take a little fudging as obviously no policy will cover gremlins, as gremlins do not exist. However, if we consider the gremlins to be an animal: 

The answer is…maybe

Home insurance does sometimes cover damage from wild animals, such as broken windows by deer, but many policies exclude damage caused by rodents, such as rats in your attic.

Again, modern insurance is not yet ready to cover sentient animals capable of driving a snow plow through your home, so your best bet is to avoid feeding any mogwai you encounter after midnight.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season free from SWAT teams and murderous gremlins, but just in case you want to protect your home from some more likely scenarios, here are a few resources:

How to keep your home safe during the holiday season

Safe travel tips during the holidays

How to practice smart device security this holiday season