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Home Alone: Would Homeowners Insurance Cover Kevin’s Damage?

Here’s what it would have cost the McCallisters to leave Kevin behind for Christmas in the '90s holiday classic "Home Alone."
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home alone: would homeowners insurance cover kevin’s damage?

Forget the emotional toll of leaving a child at home while jetting off to Paris—what would the repair bill be for the McCallister family after the credits roll for “Home Alone"?

“Home Alone," the endearing—and violent—'90s holiday comedy, follows Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) after his parents accidentally leave him home alone. Kevin must defend his home from persistent burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), aka the Wet Bandits.

From ice traps on exterior steps to an iron to the face, Kevin's traps were creative, destructive … and may not have been covered by his parents' insurance policy.

Insurify asked licensed insurance agent Anuj Desai to review the claims the McCallisters would have filed after Kevin's battle with the Wet Bandits. Additionally, Tim Rhatigan, founder and principal of Chicago-based Rhatigan Law Offices personal injury firm, weighed in on potential lawsuits prompted by Kevin's attacks on the helpless bandits. Estimates for damages were provided by TheQuikFix.

Here's what it would have cost the McCallisters to leave Kevin home alone for Christmas:

Kevin's Shelf Climb

Estimated cost: $838

Claim verdict: Approved

When Kevin attempts to climb wall-mounted shelves to get to his older brother Buzz's life savings, the shelves come crashing down. Drywall damage and repainting, as well as the cost of the shelves and their contents, could have put the McCallisters back a bit. However, “even though Kevin climbs on the shelves, this damage could be covered under an HO-5 policy," Desai says. “This type of homeowners insurance offers much broader protection and higher coverage limits than a standard HO-3 policy. A claim for the shelves and items on them would fall under Coverage C, which pays for personal property."

“Given how much destruction Kevin caused throughout the movie, I would recommend the McCallisters consider an HO-5," Desai adds.

Heated Doorknob

Estimated cost: $90

Claim verdict: Denied

Harry was the unlucky victim of Kevin's use of an electric charcoal starter to heat the front doorknob. The doorknob itself could have been replaced for $90 on eBay, but the real question is whether the McCallisters could be on the hook for a premises liability lawsuit.

“While defense of one's dwelling is allowed, the Wet Bandits aren't trespassing or committing burglary until they enter the house itself," Rhatigan says. “The airsoft gun fired through the doggie door, the slippery steps, and the hot-doorknob injuries all occur outside the house. These instances of use of force could be construed as unreasonable."

“Another thing to consider is that it is generally impermissible to leave traps on your property under the case Katko v. Briney, a 1971 Iowa case that is commonly taught in law schools across the country—and commonly compared to 'Home Alone' by law professors all over the country," Rhatigan continues. “That case, and that general doctrine adopted in most states, applies to traps set outside a house rather than traps set inside the house, making them patently illegal even if they injure trespassers instead of invitees or licensees."

Homeowners insurance likely wouldn't cover Harry's injuries or a lawsuit, as it was intentional physical harm.

Iron Down the Laundry Chute

Estimated cost: $434

Claim verdict: Denied

Marv caught an iron in the face after Kevin attached it to a light chain and threaded it through the laundry chute. If this happened in real life and not a children's holiday movie, Marv likely would have needed extensive medical treatment. While the McCallister family's insurance would not cover the incident due to it being an intentional trap, they probably wouldn't need to pay for Marv's injuries if he chose to sue.

“Illinois is a 'Castle Doctrine' state," Rhatigan explains. “This statute allows people to use force to protect their home (their 'Castle') to stop unlawful entry, felonies, or 'great bodily harm.'"

“For this law to apply and block all liability for Kevin McCallister, he would have to show that the entry was violent and the force was necessary to prevent his injury, or that the force was necessary to prevent a felony in the house (which would likely include burglary)," Rhatigan says. “Especially since Kevin is a child who is literally 'Home Alone,' it is unlikely any court would see it as unreasonable for him to think he was in danger, even if he doesn't have a good conception of what qualifies as a felony."

The McCallisters would have to pay for the damaged laundry chute, which costs about $434 to replace.

Read the full report to find out if the rest of the damage would have been covered, as well as the total bill the McCallisters would have faced.

AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor. 

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Thursday, January 18, 2024
Homeowners