Quick notes:

  • Purchasing insurance is worth it for high-cost items, thanks to the prevalence of “porch piracy.”
  • You can get very cheap insurance on packages through third-party companies or through the company that is delivering the package.
  • Security cameras and special package delivery services, such as Amazon Locker, can help prevent packages from being stolen.

 

“Porch pirates” are threatening to replace the Grinch as the holiday’s most sinister threat — and for good reason.

These so-called “porch pirates” are the media-branded name for thieves who steal packages from residential doorways and driveways.

There’s little doubt these sticky-fingered box bandits are a growing threat, especially around the holidays.

According to a 2018 study from InsuranceQuotes.com, 25.9 million Americans say they’ve had a holiday package stolen from or near their front door.

Law enforcement agencies are starting to crack down on porch piracy. For example, Texas governor Greg Abbott recently signed into law a bill making it a felony to snatch packages or mail from an individual’s property. Punishments range from six months to 10 years in jail to $10,000 fines for being found guilty of porch piracy.

In the meantime, the rise of doorstep package theft has some financial experts calling for consumers to insure their package deliveries. An insurance policy against package theft offers consumers some downside financial protection against porch pirates. That could prove to be a big help for holiday consumers, as Federal Express and UPS deliver over a billion packages combined between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.

“During the holidays, certain crimes and home hazards increase,” Insurance Quotes states in its study. “Homeowners need to take precautions and make sure they have the right insurance to protect their finances. You could also have packages delivered to your office or a local locker — or use motion detectors, security systems, and light timers to fend off thieves.”

Getting educated

As with any personal financial decision, protecting your holiday package deliveries via insurance requires some education and planning. The more you know, the better your package insurance experience will be.

“Many packages are delivered with some insurance at no additional cost,” says Simon Nowak, chief executive officer at 3 Credit Scores, an online credit scoring services platform. “For example, Priority Mail insures for $50 while UPS is $100.”

Nowak says that if the contents are worth more than $100, it’s worth it to purchase additional insurance coverage, which isn’t very expensive. “It’s typically less than $1 for every $100 worth of coverage,” he says.

The more valuable your delivery merchandise, the more you may need insurance.

“If you are worried about a package being lost, stolen, or damaged, you might want to consider insurance, but only for high-cost items, if they’re not already covered by the delivery company,” says Gabe Turner, director of content at Security Baron, a security systems and products analysis company.

Turner says that while the big delivery package companies will insure most packages up to $100 in value, they won’t insure all of them.

“Keep in mind that FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service won’t insure cash, coins, or precious stones, and some companies have limits on the declared value,” he says. “So if your item is high-cost, not automatically insured, and not cash, coins, or precious stones, insurance is a good way to protect your holiday packages.”

Turner recommends buying insurance from third-party companies like Stamps.com or Shipsurance, as opposed to the carriers themselves.

“Shipsurance, for example, lets you save up to 90% simply by signing up for an open policy, which is a good idea if you want to insure a lot of packages,” he says. “I wouldn’t buy insurance directly from FedEx or UPS, as they both have a minimum cost of $2.40 per package. Shipsurance, on the other hand, can charge as little as $0.55 for similarly valued packages.”

Third-party companies are also willing to cover more expensive packages than the big carriers, Turner says. “Plus, customer support is better with these companies than with a large mail carrier, and there are more payment options available, including PayPal,” he says.

Consumers don’t have to go directly to an insurance company for package delivery insurance. More and more companies are offering package delivery protection on their own, often for pennies on the dollar.

“We use Route shipping insurance,” says John Frigo, digital marketing lead at MySupplementStore.com. “Route is a free service to businesses that allows customers the option of insuring their package for 0.98 cents up to $100 or 1% over that amount, so very cheap.”

“If a package is lost, or even stolen off your porch, Route customers can file a claim with one click and either have a reshipment or a refund,” Frigo says.

Security cameras can help, too

Getting insurance is a good idea for high-value items, but it doesn’t prevent them from being stolen in the first place.

That’s where home security cameras can help.

“A doorbell camera is a good option,” says Nowak. “You can get one with several nice features for $100 to $200. Motion activates them and you can communicate with anyone at your door via your smartphone even if you aren’t home. Additionally, it’s a nice security feature to have year-round, and not just when you’re expecting holiday packages.”

If you’re an avid Amazon customer, opt for one of the special package delivery services offered by the retail giant.

“A combination of cameras and insurance is a good idea, or alternatives like getting your packages delivered to an Amazon Locker or using programs like Amazon Key that let packages get delivered into your home itself,” says Turner. “These are surefire ways that your Amazon packages won’t get stolen, although they only apply to Amazon.”

A deeper dive — Related reading on the 101:

If you’re not already an Amazon Prime member, you may want to consider becoming one.

Don’t go TOO crazy with those holiday packages …

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