Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover My Swimming Pool?
Swimming pools or ponds in the backyard of your house are the best places for beating the summer heat and enjoy with your family and friends safely. Regardless of the fun it provides, there is always a chance of injury or accident in the pool. If you are having a pool on your property then this article will help you to gain knowledge about all types of insurance coverage, protection against claims, and liability issues any homeowner could face.
Categories of homeowners insurance
Different homeowner insurance companies have different policies and criteria for providing a secured coverage. Homeowners insurance usually consists of three elements including personal liability coverage, dwelling coverage, and personal property coverage. If someone gets harm or injured on your property then it can be claimed under liability coverage, for example, if any outsider passing by your pool falls into it, then this incident can be claimed under liability coverage and you will be held responsible for it. Dwelling coverage covers the rebuilding or repair of the home and any added structures on the property like a shed, a garage, or any attached structure. Personal property coverage comprises electronics and furnishings.
How does homeowners’ Insurance cover my pool?
Homeowners’ insurance offers protection against claims of the third party because of damage or harm to them. This encompasses all legal costs and expenditures that must be paid by the insured party in case if the homeowner is found legally liable under coverage policy and insurance peril. Peril is an event that can cause damage to your property, including the pool, and comes under homeowners covering policy. Some common perils that can easily be covered in pool insurance include fire, lightning, windstorm, or vandalism, but these perils usually do not cause any massive destruction to the structure of the pool. Maintenance issues and damage due to earthquakes and floods are not covered under homeowners insurance.
To find out whether the swimming pool insurance is covered in home insurance or not, contact your insurer and discuss about adding pool coverage into your home insurance coverage. It may let you pay an additional yearly premium. If you do not take into consideration the pool-related laws of the state, there is an increased chance of liability.
Basic requirements for swimming pool insurance
Different municipalities have different terms and conditions defined before pool installation, but most of them are somehow similar and includes the following points:
- You need a permit to install the pool in your backyard.
- Get a written agreement from your neighbor if you are planning to place a safety fence at the shared border between your house and your neighbor’s house.
- In-ground pools must have a depth of 1.2 meters.
- The pool must not be empty and has to be full of water every time.
- It must not include slides and a diving board.
What is the difference in damage coverage for an in-ground pool and an above-ground pool?
Irrespective of pool type, either its in-ground pool or above-ground pool, there is always a risk of damage or any accident to pool or people. The risk may be due to some natural disaster or because of injuries to visitors passing nearby. To avoid such risks, the homeowner must be ingenious in making him protected from liability claims by keeping their pools in the right coverage and security. The majority of homeowners insurance covers in-ground pools under dwelling coverage as they consider it as “other structures”. Whereas, the above-ground swimming pools that are portable lie under “personal property”. That is why coverage differs for different pool types.
Although there is little difference in policies for an in-ground and above-ground pool, above-ground pools possess additional risk as they can be leaked out easily and can drown your basement if the wall of the pool is damaged.
Coverage for above-ground pools
As most of the insurance companies consider above-ground pools (that don’t have any deck or permanent structure attached) as your personal property and therefore are not responsible for any damage. This is because it can easily be removed if one moves. In addition, the insurance coverage has some limits and policies defined for different pool types. For this, you have to talk with your insurer about insurance covering limitations they have for above-ground pools.
To keep yourself away from liability claims, a homeowner must design and mount the pool according to the ordinance of the state. If there are any deck steps attached to the pool, there must be latching gates to avoid any incident. If there are no deck steps and you use a ladder instead then it must be kept aside when not in use. Thinking that the little kids will be safe as the pool is above the ground is foolishness as it takes no time for a kid to catch any small bench or chair and climb in.
Coverage for in-ground pools
For in-ground pools, the coverage is most likely comes under “other structure” coverage of your homeowner’s policy. The amount of coverage is usually ten percent of your dwelling coverage.
For such types of pools, a five-foot-high fence must surround the pool provided by latching gates at every possible way that leads towards the pool. The main reason for having a fence around the pool is the risk of drowning children in the pool. The other way to keep unwanted visitors from getting into the pool is to cover the pool with an automatic safety pool cover.
Adding a diving board to your swimming pool
Diving boards cannot be mounted with above-ground pools as they have no enough water depth to dive in and can cause injury. Diving boards must only be placed for in-ground pools. It makes your time more enjoyable if they are installed appropriately. A diving board must be installed in a way that it acts as a diving stage and not the springboard. The distance between the diving board and pool must be a minimum of 9 feet. Diving boards can be fatal and can cause head injuries if they are not properly mounted. Very few insurance companies cover its liability coverage.
Adding a pool cage to your pool
If you think that the fence around the pool is not enough, a cage covering the pool is another best idea for securing it. Standard homeowners’ policy does not include this enclosure coverage but if you are too concerned about the safety, then you can purchase an add-on for its coverage.
Pool insurance cost
If a homeowner is willing to add coverage for its swimming pool in the home insurance policy, the cost is usually affordable. The cost may vary according to your location, restrictions, and the insurance company. It also relies upon the type of pool you have and in which category your insurer considers it. The coverage provides financial protection against any risks related to the swimming pool. As pool insurance will ultimately increase your homeowners’ premiums, some insurers also offer discounts to assist in compensating those premiums.
Are the pool-related injuries covered in homeowners insurance?
A pool is a place where even strangers can enter without your knowledge and if they got hurt, you are truly liable for it. In this case, the coverage comes under “liability coverage” of your homeowner’s policy. Check for the laws from local ordinances for swimming pools that might include any alarm system or installation of a safety fence of suitable height. Also, if possible, try to place a locking gate at the fence to minimize the access of outsiders to the pool when you are not around. Some municipalities have even the requirement of a specific type of lock for the gate. Keep in mind that despite following all rules and regulations, you can still be held liable.
Need of additional liability coverage – the umbrella policy
Having homeowners’ insurance is not generally enough for those having a pool on their property as they have additional risks of accidents. In addition to standard liability coverage, one needs to have additional coverage to avoid an unexpected incident as standard home insurance policy only adds coverage of around $100,000 per incident.
The umbrella policy can be a good option in this regard if you want to increase the coverage amount. This policy is designed to boost up your current protection covered by homeowners’ insurance. The umbrella policy is not an essential requirement for a homeowner but it will be worth it if you are having a pool.
Having an umbrella policy will provide you additional $1,000,000 for liability protection if your primary policy has reached its maximum limit. If someone gets harm, injured, or dies while using your pool, this policy will help you to cover all the medical costs and legal fees. If you do not own an umbrella policy, you have to pay the additional cost from your pocket for the loss or damage. The possession of an umbrella policy for your pool will provide you peace of mind as you will be financially secured and protected for the years ahead.
Limiting the risks of incidents related to a swimming pool
Regardless of the category in which your pool coverage falls, one must keep in mind the following safety measures to minimize the liability risk:
- Location of swimming pool
Try to construct the pool at a place as far as possible from public paths and streets so that visitors may not fall into the pool. If feasible, light out the area around the pool to increase the visibility of the pool.
- Remove obstacles around the pool
Try to remove hurdles, rocks, or extra bushes from the shoreline of the swimming pool to get a clear view of it so that any person passing nearby can look at it. If the pool is hidden by too long bushes, it can become a “hidden danger” for the people passing nearby. Also, look for the maintenance of deck steps and diving board by regularly investigating them.
- Place rescuing equipment near the pool
Install life-saving equipment that could be easily accessible for everyone, such as a ladder, a long nylon rope, a telephone with a list of emergency phone numbers, a siren, or a flashlight. The first aid kit must also be placed near the pool and accessible for all.
- Learn CPR and other safety measures
Be trained for Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and learn water rescue techniques for any emergency. Also, educate neighbors to use life-saving equipment and rescue devices. Place signboards indicating warnings for deep water, sudden drop-offs, and the “no access” region. Signboards must be written and demonstrated well with visuals so that people of every age can easily understand them.
- Add a pool cover
Make your pool covered during the off-season. If possible and under your range, screened enclosed pool will be the best idea to keep away the unwanted visitors.
- Maintaining records
For keeping yourself away from any unexpected situation, a homeowner must place a CCTV camera to monitor any mishap so that he may provide proof to the insurance company if he is responsible for the harm or not. This could provide a detailed record of verbal meetings between you and the pool user, and can be interpreted as what exactly happened. This possibly will help the insurance company to know either it comes under personal property coverage or liability coverage.
- Flooring material
The material of the flooring around the in-ground pool must not be slithering as it may cause a slip and a person can fall into the pool.
No doubt families use swimming pools for their outdoor fun as well as throwing barbeque parties with friends; the swimming pools always turn out to be the best place for spending a pleasant evening. If you own a swimming pool or planning to install it, you must keep in mind all the necessary information needed to possess a swimming pool without any fear of risk. You can gain detailed information from your insurer about an adequate pool coverage policy so finding out the right insurer will provide you the right swimming pool insurance.