Are Pools Covered By Homeowners Insurance?
If you've been thinking of installing a swimming pool in your backyard, you may wonder, are pools covered by homeowners insurance?The answer is not always and often not enough.
While a pool is a great way to bring people together and cool off in the sweltering summer months, it does come with some additional risks — and your homeowner's insurance policy may not be sufficient to cover them. Here's what you need to know to keep yourself, your family and your guests safe around the pool all year.
Why you Should Get Swimming pool Insurance
Having the right type and amount of insurance for your pool can be essential. This can help protect you from liability claims and lawsuits if someone hurts themselves in or around the pool area. It can help cover the financial costs of any damages incurred, bodily injuries, medical expenses and your legal fees.
Consider the factors below before purchasing a new insurance policy or beefing up the one you already have.
Add structure coverage to your policy
Make sure to read your homeowner's policy, as you may be surprised to find it contains exclusions concerning pools of any kind on your property (above-ground or in-ground), as well as structural collapses.
In this case, you may need to purchase an add-on product called structure coverage since your insurer may see your pool as a detached structure separate from your actual home, like a shed. With structure coverage, your policy can pay for the costs of repair or replacement of your pool, whether the damage is caused by bad weather or vandalism.
Increase your personal liability insurance limits
Liability coverage is often a standard part of any homeowner's policy, but since a swimming pool entails an additional layer of risk, it's best to increase your limits. “Most homeowner's policies come with only $100,000 of liability protection," estimates Jason Robinson, team leader and personal risk advisor at O'Neill Insurance in Wadsworth, Ohio.
Jason Robinson further estimates “if someone gets injured in your pool, you could easily face a $3 million lawsuit. In contrast, damages to your pool or home might cost you between $50,000 to $100,000."
Purchase a separate umbrella policy
Adding umbrella coverage to your homeowner's insurance policy can provide an additional layer of protection in case you need to exceed even the extended liability amounts. “All homeowners should seriously consider buying an umbrella liability policy as it can give you multi-million-dollar coverage," says Robinson. “If someone drowns or dies at your pool, the likelihood of a lawsuit that goes beyond the standard limits of coverage is very high."
Purchase rental property coverage if you have tenants
While some home insurance policies include both short-term and long-term rental coverage, these options aren't usually automatically included. If you're not the sole occupant of the home and rent it out on a short-term basis, for instance, while you go away on vacation, you will need a different policy to cover that risk.
“You're looking at two different scenarios: the risk of bringing supervised guests over to your home every once in a while versus having guests constantly on-site who are paying to be there while you're not," Robinson explains.
What are the Requirements of Swimming Pool Insurance?
While the rules and regulations around having a swimming pool will vary depending on where you live, you'll need to follow them closely as a condition of your insurance agreement. Some standard requirements include:
- installing a fence or enclosure around your pool
- having the right permits in place
- meeting the proper criteria for land zoning
Make sure to check with your insurer if slides and diving boards are permitted at your pool, as those pose a higher risk for injuries. If you want to add one, you may find your rates will increase, or you may be denied coverage due to liability risks. You'll also be required to ensure the pool is at least 3 feet and 11 inches deep and to build a child safety fence for the swimming pool, so it can't be easily climbed or accessed by children or trespassers.
How to Ensure Safety and Minimize Risk at the Pool
As a homeowner, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents or injuries around your pool by being proactive. Here are some safety measures to consider implementing:
- Keep all gates and fences around the pool locked when not in use.
- Keep the pool covered in winter or when not in use to prevent anyone from slipping or falling in.
- Consider putting up signage such as “no trespassing," “no diving,"or “no running," and a general list of rules for anyone using the pool, including both guests and family members.
- Maintain your pool as recommended and check it regularly to ensure everything is working properly. This includes the pump, levels of chemicals in the water and your diving board and slide if you have them.
- Keep life jackets and other flotation devices on hand in case of emergency.
- Ensure children are always supervised when using the pool and do not let anyone swim alone.
- Make sure all adults in the household are up-to-date on first aid training and comfortable in the water. Have an emergency plan and a list of numbers to call if someone gets hurt.
- Use vigilance when drinking alcohol near the pool. Limit your guests' consumption, and do not allow them in the pool if you doubt their sobriety or swimming ability.
- Monitor and remove any potential hazards from the pool area, such as toys, glassware or electronic devices.
Always talk to your insurer before installing a swimming pool or buying a house that has one in the backyard. To help ensure you have the right coverage, consider getting the help of an independent insurance agent. Connect with us to find what works best for you.