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Porch piracy (stealing delivered packages from outside your front door when no one’s home) is a relatively new criminal practice, but it’s quickly gaining popularity.

A 2019 FedEx study showed that over a quarter of Canadians polled had experienced package theft. And with the enormous rise in popularity online shopping has had, we can all expect that number to go up because of how easy porch piracy is to pull off.

Home insurance can provide relief for victims of porch piracy

While the “personal property” section of your homeowner’s insurance covers what you have in your home, the “off premise” (OP) section covers thefts outside your home. This includes items stolen out of your parked car, valuables snatched out of your bag and, in this case, deliveries plucked from your doorstep.

Additionally, an OP theft rider protects anyone listed under your policy (like your spouse and children).

In a case of porch piracy, what’s actually covered?

The standard amount covered for porch piracy is 10 percent of your personal property coverage. This means the maximum payout for stolen goods is lower if it happens outside the home – but, in all fairness, these thefts tend to be only a few items compared to the full contents of a house.

You may not be able to retrieve the full amount if something particularly expensive is stolen by a porch pirate. So, if you’re expecting a high-value item that’s small enough to steal, check if the price exceeds your maximum coverage. If it does, consider getting additional shipping insurance from the delivery service.

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Are lost items covered by home insurance?

If an item is lost in the mail, it’s unlikely to be covered by home insurance. If your package does not arrive on time, check with your post office to see if they can confirm the delivery. For courier services, use your tracking number to try pinpointing the location. If their records show the item was delivered, check with your neighbours and contact the seller. It’s possible it was dropped at the wrong house, or the address was entered incorrectly.

Is the seller responsible for stolen packages?

The trouble with a stolen package is no one wants to take responsibility: the seller will claim their role ended when they shipped your purchase, and the post office or delivery service checks out once they knock at your door.

That said, your best bet is to contact the seller. While they’re not “responsible” for the theft, they are your main contact for the over-all purchase.

Also, sellers will often want to maintain their reputation so they may refund your money or send you a replacement, free of charge. They could also have their own shipping insurance for this very purpose.

However, it’s your responsibility to make all parties aware of your stolen package. A front door camera can prove theft, but without footage, you may not even know if your purchase was delivered in the first place. In the case of theft, you can also file a police report. While you’re unlikely to get your property back, it can help with insurance claims.

Should you use home insurance for theft outside the home?

If your policy covers porch piracy, it may seem like an obvious choice – but it ultimately comes down to your deductible and what you’re comfortable paying. If your portion of the cost is higher than the price of the item that was stolen, the process and cost might not be worth your time.

For items that exceed the deductible, home insurance can save the day. Small, expensive items like electronics are ideal targets for porch pirates. And if you don’t think a delivery person would leave a new computer sitting on your front steps, think again. You’d be shocked at the daily number of deliveries last-mile shippers expect their drivers to make.

How to make sure you’re covered for porch piracy

Insurance policies can vary, so yours may not have off-premises theft coverage built in. It’s worth your time to check, especially if you see yourself shopping online more regularly. If you don’t have an OP rider already, it’s very much worth your while to add it.

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