Sure, pools and trampolines are fun. But homeowners who choose to put them in their backyards also face greater responsibility and a much larger homeowners insurance bill. It’s best to weigh the pros and cons before making such a purchase.
Swimming pools. The insurance covering damage to an in-ground pool is treated differently in different states — and sometimes even among insurance companies. In some instances, the pool may be seen as part of the house and its valuation. Other companies may treat it like a separate structure such as a workshop. If the pool is above ground it is often treated as a portable structure and covered similar to personal property damage. Consult with your insurance agent so you know exactly how your pool would be treated in the case of a damage claim. Don’t forget to properly maintain the pool or risk having a claim denied. If, for example, the pool or its plumbing cracks because it was not drained properly in areas prone to hard winter freezes, the insurance company may deny or dispute your claim.
Pool owners also face higher premiums for the casualty portion of homeowners insurance because of the greater risk of someone being seriously hurt or fatally insured while at your home. Each year in the United States, thousands of people drown in pools, known in the industry as an “attractive nuisance.” Children are at greatest risk.
It is vital that you have enough liability insurance to cover the medical costs should someone be injured on your property. Most homeowners insurance policies have a minimum liability coverage of $100,000, but that could easily prove inadequate. Pool owners should have $300,000 to $1 million in coverage, or have an “umbrella policy” layered on top of a regular policy that will provide $1 million in coverage. If someone’s claim against you exceeds your policy limit, you can be sued for the balance.
Insurance companies and local ordinances also will likely require you to install fencing with either a self-locking gate or a latch too high for children to reach.
Trampolines. Since trampolines can be moved, any damage would be covered similarly to personal property damage under a homeowners policy. To guard against a trampoline damaging your home, a vehicle or a neighboring home during a windstorm, it’s important to secure the trampoline in place to limit this possibility.
With a trampoline, be prepared to pay more for the casualty portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy — for the same reasons as pool ownership. The risk of injury or death is greater with a trampoline on your property. Also be prepared to install safety features, such as netting and fencing.
Many insurance companies have exclusions of coverage for trampolines; you may have to shop for a company willing to provide liability coverage for one.