By Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready
The holidays are almost here. Like nearly everything else in 2020, holiday shopping this year will be quite different.
The unofficial start of holiday shopping is usually Black Friday, but this year, more people are expected to shop earlier and spend more online.
With thousands of packages scheduled to arrive on doorsteps throughout this season, many are left unattended and vulnerable. Package theft is at an all-time high, with 1.7 million packages stolen or lost every day in the U.S., according to researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
In response, Oklahoma implemented a new measure to combat package thieves.
The Porch Piracy Act, which went into effect November 1, enforces stricter penalties against porch pirates with punishments of up to two years in prison or up to a $5,000 fine.
Despite the new law, it still largely falls on homeowners to protect their packages from thieves. Yet, taking the proper precautions can prevent theft from occurring. Here are four tips to keep your holiday deliveries safe:
• Consider Shipping Insurance — Shipping insurance is sold by postal services, courier companies and shipping-insurance companies. Not all insurers will insure all goods. However, if you’re ordering high-value items online, you may purchase shipping insurance to ensure delivery.
• Give Specific Instructions — Instead of having deliveries left unsecured at your front door, you can instruct drivers to leave a package at a back door, with a building superintendent, in a coded lockbox or with neighbors. You can also have deliveries placed on hold and request a specific delivery time. Most, but not all, of these services are free.
• Install Security Camera or Doorbell Camera — Security cameras or video doorbells can also come in handy. The mere presence of these cameras or smart doorbells may be enough to ward off the potential package thieves. Even if it doesn't, you'll at least have evidence for a police report.
Bonus: installing these cameras may qualify you for a homeowners insurance discount.
• Sign Up for Tracking Notifications — Most carriers offer package tracking services and text or email alerts to know when a delivery will be made so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly. Sign up for text or email notifications to check your delivery status.
Finally, if your package is stolen, here’s what you can do.
Contact the Seller — File a claim with the seller and ask for a replacement.
Contact the Shipping Company — File a claim with the postal service that shipped your package. FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL and Amazon have a claim-filing system to help you track down your package.
Check Your Credit Card — Many credit cards have purchase protection that covers lost or stolen items. Make sure you used a credit card to purchase the item.
File an Insurance Claim — Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover mail theft. Keep in mind that filing a claim only makes sense for high-value packages worth more than your policy’s deductible.