Would Homeowners Insurance Cover Kevin McCallister’s Destruction in ‘Home Alone’?

A licensed insurance agent weighs in on the McCallisters’ hefty repair bill, and a personal injury attorney analyzes the Wet Bandits’ case.

Cassie Sheets
Written byCassie Sheets
Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsData Journalist
  • 9 years writing data-driven content

  • Lifestyle contributor to 30+ local news sites

Cassie Sheets has a background in home and garden and real estate content. At Insurify, she translates industry jargon into insights that empower insurance buyers.

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Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen Vohra
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

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Published December 1, 2023 at 11:00 AM PST

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Ask most millennials about their favorite Christmas movies, and there’s a good chance they’ll mention “Home Alone.” The classic 1990 family comedy, directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes, follows 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) after his parents accidentally leave him home alone.

When the family jets off to Paris for a Christmas vacation without him, Kevin must defend his home from persistent burglars Harry and Marv, who call themselves the Wet Bandits.

From concocting an icy trap on the exterior steps to trip the burglars to setting off firecrackers in the kitchen to scare them away, Kevin’s battle plan is as destructive as it is creative. Damages from Kevin’s traps might have even been more costly than a successful burglary. 

But would the McCallisters be out thousands of dollars in repairs, or would homeowners insurance step in?

Anuj Desai, a licensed insurance agent at Insurify, reviewed the claims the McCallisters would need to file after the events in “Home Alone.” 

TheQwikFix, a platform that takes images and text from home inspection reports and turns them into repair quotes for its network of contractors, provided estimates for the damages.

The McCallisters, who lived in Winnetka, Illinois, might have also been liable for injuries the Wet Bandits sustained from Kevin’s traps. Tim Rhatigan, founder and principal of Chicago-based Rhatigan Law Offices personal injury firm, weighs in on potential lawsuits. 

Here’s what it would cost to leave Kevin home alone for Christmas.

Claim 1: The damaged statue

Estimated cost of damage: $600

Claim verdict: Approved

Foreshadowing the damage to come, a delivery driver from the fictional Little Nero pizzeria collides with the McCallisters’ lawn jockey within the first 10 minutes of “Home Alone.” The statue might’ve survived the first hit, but the driver returns throughout the movie, repeatedly knocking it.

If the McCallisters chose to replace the damaged statue, they could find a similar model on eBay for approximately $600.

But the McCallisters might not have to pay that cost out of pocket. “The statue would probably be covered by the pizza company’s commercial insurance or by the delivery driver’s own car insurance policy. Often, delivery drivers are required to have their own coverage,” said Desai.

Claim 2: Kevin’s costly climb

Estimated cost of damage: $838

Claim verdict: Approved

When Kevin attempts to climb wall-mounted shelves to get to his older brother Buzz’s life savings, he ends up causing far more damage than you could pay for with a piggy bank.

Kevin, the shelves, and everything on them (including Buzz’s tarantula) come crashing down, causing at least $313 in drywall damage, according to an estimate from TheQwikFix. If the McCallisters wanted a paint job after contractors repaired the drywall, their bill would climb by $375.

On top of that, the shelves also break. Throw in a similar shelving unit from IKEA, and the McCallisters are out another $150. Fortunately, they might have some help from their insurance company if they have the right coverage.

“Even though Kevin climbs on the shelves, this damage could be covered under an HO-5 policy,” said Desai.

“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.”

In this case, the cost of the damage might not outweigh the deductible.

Claim 3: Tar-covered stairs

Estimated cost of damage: $2,438

Claim verdict: Denied

To slow down Marv, Kevin coats the basement stairs with tar. The addition of an exposed nail makes this booby trap especially painful. However, the hit to the McCallisters’ bank account would also sting.

Replacing the ruined wooden stairs would cost approximately $2,438, and it’s unlikely insurance would cover the damage.

“Intentional acts and damage aren’t covered under home insurance. This claim would most likely be denied,” said Desai.

Even though Kevin was trying to protect his home, this single trap for the Wet Bandits may have cost his family more than the duo could have stolen.

Claim 4: The heated doorknob

Estimated cost of damage: $90

Claim verdict: Denied

Kevin uses an electric charcoal starter to heat up the front doorknob and keep the Wet Bandits out, with Harry bearing the brunt of the burns. The McCallisters could find similar monogrammed hardware on eBay for $90 if they needed to replace the doorknob.

The doorknob is a cheap fix compared to the other havoc Kevin wreaks. But the McCallisters could be on the hook for a premises liability lawsuit for Harry’s injuries.

“While defense of one’s dwelling is allowed, the Wet Bandits aren’t trespassing or committing burglary until they enter the house itself,” says personal injury attorney Tim Rhatigan.

“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,” explains Rhatigan.

“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. 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.”

The McCallisters’ homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover Harry’s injuries or a resulting lawsuit, either.

“If Kevin had accidentally left the blowtorch under the knob and injured a guest, insurance could have covered it under medical payments or liability coverage,” said Desai. “Intentional physical harm isn’t covered.”

That said, the fact that Harry sustained injuries while trying to break in doesn’t help his case.

“The McCallister family is lucky that some carolers or a last-minute courier with a certificate for the Jelly of the Month Club (to reference another [John Hughes-written] Christmas classic) wasn’t who knocked on the door and slipped down the intentionally iced steps,” says Rhatigan.

Claim 5: Blowtorch fire damage

Estimated cost of damage: $564

Claim verdict: Denied

Placing an exposed nail on the stairs and heating the doorknob are concerning enough behaviors for an 8-year-old. But Kevin outdoes himself with this impressively complex booby trap. When Harry tries to enter through the back door, he runs into Kevin’s rigged-up blowtorch.

Assuming the walls and cabinets were as scorched as Harry’s hat, the McCallisters would be looking at an additional $313 wall repair bill and a $251 cabinet fix. Because the act that caused fire damage was intentional, the McCallisters would also face another denied claim.

Claim 6: Firecracker damage

Estimated cost of damage: $594

Claim verdict: Denied

When Marv tries to sneak into the house (and loses his shoe through the doggy door in the process), Kevin quickly turns on a crime drama on TV and sets off firecrackers to mimic the sound of gunfire, temporarily fooling Marv into thinking another pair of bandits beat him and Harry to the job.

As clever as the stunt is, Kevin’s parents would again face a hefty bill for an intentional act that insurance wouldn’t cover. Prepping, priming, and painting the smoke-damaged ceiling would cost nearly $600, according to an estimate from TheQwikFix.

Claim 7: Glue and feathers

Estimated cost of damage: $1,688

Claim verdict: Denied

One of Kevin’s booby traps involves a piece of plastic wrap covered in caulking glue. Harry walks into the trap. Then, he’s blasted with feathers blowing from a nearby fan. You might think glue and feather damage would be minimal compared to some of Kevin’s fiery traps.

Unfortunately, Kevin’s parents might need to refinish their flooring if the glue and feathers had time to dry. A deep cleaning for the room would cost them $313, and refinishing the hardwood flooring adds another $1,375 to their bill. They probably wouldn’t have any luck getting their insurance company to cover this claim.

Claim 8: An iron down the laundry chute

Estimated cost of damage: $434

Claim verdict: Denied

Kevin creates another trap inside the laundry chute by attaching an iron to the light switch. When Marv tries to turn on a light, the iron falls down the chute and hits him square in the face. Movie logic saves Marv from more severe injuries, but in reality, he could need extensive medical treatment for chipped teeth, a broken nose, or a head injury.

While the McCallister family’s insurance wouldn’t cover medical payments or liability for an intentional trap, it’s unlikely the family would have to pay for Marv’s injuries should he decide to sue.

“Illinois is a ‘Castle Doctrine’ state. The relevant statute is 720 ILCS 5/7-2, authorizing the use of force in the defense of a dwelling,” explains Rhatigan. “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). 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 still be on the hook for the damaged laundry chute, which costs an estimated $434 to replace.

Claim 9: Broken Christmas ornaments

Estimated cost of damage: $90

Claim verdict: Approved

When Marv tries to sneak in through the back window, he steps on a pile of ornaments Kevin scattered on the floor. Marv is also barefoot, losing his shoes to Kevin’s previous traps.

A few packs of shatterproof ornaments cost about $90 on the lower end. If the McCallisters had HO-5 insurance, their insurer might’ve covered this broken personal property. However, the replacement cost wouldn’t meet the deductible unless their ornaments were collectible.

Claim 10: The Murphy family’s flooding

Estimated cost of damage: $30,614

Claim verdict: Approved

Though all of Kevin’s traps are costly, Marv causes the most expensive damage in the film. The McCallisters’ neighbors, the Murphys, are also targeted by the Wet Bandits. After burglarizing the Murphys, Marv plugs up the kitchen sink and leaves the water running, explaining how the Wet Bandits earned their moniker.

The overflowing water from the clogged sink trickles to the basement, causing tens of thousands of dollars in water damage.

Removing water and dehumidifying the basement costs an estimated $2,938, and that’s just the beginning of a long list of repairs. Full home mold remediation adds $2,877. Flooding is also a common cause of water heater failure, so the Murphys would need to replace the appliance and have it installed for $3,994.

Then, a contractor would need to replace the damaged floors with new luxury vinyl flooring, costing a staggering $19,789. To top it all off, the baseboard would need to be replaced and resealed for $1,016.

The Murphys would need to pay approximately $30,614 to repair damages from the Wet Bandits’ spree. But there’s some good news for the Murphys.

“The proximate cause is vandalism. So, this water damage would be covered under a standard HO-3 policy,” says Desai.

The total cost of leaving Kevin McCallister home alone

Kevin takes most of the blame for destroying his family’s home. However, the 8-year-old caused less than 20% of the total $37,950 in damages that occurred across both houses while his parents were away.

Kevin’s booby traps and attempts to deter the Wet Bandits add up to a staggering $6,406 in contractor repair bills for the McCallisters. Add in the broken Christmas ornaments and new shelves, and Kevin caused approximately $6,736 worth of damages in “Home Alone.”

The delivery driver from the beginning of the movie likely dented the McCallisters’ $600 lawn statue. In addition, the Wet Bandits caused $30,614 in water damage in the Murphy family’s house.

Unfortunately for the Murphys, their water damage quote could be much higher depending on the extent of the damages.

“If the water was running for days at a house, the flooring and the subflooring are likely ruined. To repair this, you may have to remove and replace cabinets, baseboards, and potentially some amount of drywall. If the home is older and constructed before drywall was commonly used, it costs even more,” says Jeremy Henley, founder and CEO at TheQwikFix.

Would the Wet Bandits have personal injury cases?

Liability law separates people into three categories, informing the duty that the homeowner owes them. The categories include invitees, licensees, and trespassers.

Invitees are guests and have the highest duty of care. Licensees are social guests who are allowed to use the property, but the owner must clear up hidden dangers or warn licensees to prevent injury.

With trespassers like the Wet Bandits, homeowners only have a duty to refrain from intentionally injuring them, Rhatigan explains.

“Any traps outside the house are illegal, and the McCallisters could be found liable for those injuries (e.g., the airsoft shot through the door, the fall down the iced stairs, and the burn from the doorknob), but everything inside the house should be considered defense of dwelling,” says Rhatigan.

“However, if a court finds Kevin was willful or wanton, that might eliminate his defense and allow the Wet Bandits to win their claim. Any traps set off while the Wet Bandits were seeking to escape the house might also be unreasonable and grounds for an injury suit.”

Would homeowners insurance cover Home Alone damages?

Kevin caused most of the damages intentionally. So, unfortunately for the McCallisters, their homeowners insurance would probably only cover $928 for the broken shelves and ornaments — and that’s only if they had a more comprehensive HO-5 policy instead of standard HO-3 insurance.

If the McCallisters had a $1,000 deductible, they wouldn’t receive any reimbursement. However, the pizza delivery driver’s policy might pay for a new $600 lawn jockey.

The Murphys would fare much better. The cause of the water damage was malicious mischief, so homeowners insurance would cover repairs after the Murphys paid their deductible.

Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsData Journalist

Cassie Sheets has more than nine years of experience creating compelling content for clients, brands, and local news sites. She started her career at Movoto Real Estate, where she transformed dry data into interesting insights for potential homebuyers. She’s since covered a wide range of topics, from pop culture news to home and garden trends.

Before joining Insurify, Cassie wrote engaging landing pages and blog posts for medical practices at MyAdvice. Now, she uses her knack for diving into the latest data and pulling out key details to empower insurance buyers.

Cassie holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. In her free time, you can find her exploring the city with her dog, trying not to fall over in yoga classes, and petting cats at the shelter.

Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

Featured in

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