Everyone should know by now not to believe what anyone says, writes, or does on April 1. Sometimes, however, the joke’s on you. While it’s great to have the last laugh on April Fools’ Day, some situations can get you into hot water. Vandalism of others’ personal property is no joke. Make sure you, your kids, and your friends know the difference between harmless inconvenience and criminal property damage.
Here are a few common pranks and ways you can avoid the damage they might cause:
Inviting someone over to your house and scaring them – maybe by hiding in the refrigerator, closet, or some other unlikely place – is an old trick. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should do it. If your friends become startled and hurt themselves on your property in any way (i.e. falling or dropping something on themselves) you could be liable. For a joke gone wrong, you could have to pay medical bills or even legal damages if the injured guest decides to sue.
Luckily, standard home insurance policies have coverage that can help you pay these costs. If you don’t purchase enough, however, you could be left dealing with the major consequences of one minor prank. Check your policy for coverage limits.
Hell on wheels
Last year, people “celebrating” April Fools’ Day broke windows out of more than 120 cars in Chicago’s South Loop. While it seems more like blatant vandalism than harmless prank, cars are frequently targets for mischief on April 1 (via egging or Saran wrap). Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to avoid the mayhem of pranksters, but keep your car off the street or locked safely in your garage if you can.
If someone plays a not-so-harmless prank on your car that causes permanent damage, your auto insurance could help you deal with repairs. If you don’t know who perpetrated the prank and you have comprehensive coverage (not always included in a standard policy), then you could claim the damage as “malicious mischief.” If you know who damaged your car, you can claim damage through that person’s car insurance.
Feed the flame
Faking a fire is a quick way to work your friends into a tizzy, but it’s also a quick way to cause major property damage. Vandalism is the most frequent motive for arson, and it’s easy for a simple act to cause harm. Pay attention to people around your property on April 1, whether they’re friends, family, or other guests. Educate your family on the dangers of playing with fire, and you can help yourself avoid getting burned.