How a pool or spa could impact your insurance

Posted by Matt Simon on Aug 27, 2015
Real World Situation: Last summer, a Texas family woke up to find a Dodge Charger inside their backyard pool and two teenage boys standing on their deck who had been in the vehicle.  If you have teenage boys, you can probably picture this fairly clearly.

The boys were speeding through the neighborhood around 4:00 a.m. when they lost control of the vehicle. The car crashed through a wooden fence and slammed into the side of the pool.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

However, the family had to wait on a special pool company to come drain the pool because the water was filled with oil, gas and glass particles.

Then, they had to hire a tow truck to haul the vehicle out of the pool. Damage was done to the fence, pool furniture and the pool.

While you may think that you will never have a car inside your backyard pool, accidents do happen. Whether physical damage is done to your pool or someone is badly injured, you need to make sure you are properly covered.

And the ONLY time to make sure you have the right coverage is before the claim occurs… after you find the vehicle in your pool, it’s too late!

Don’t forget about safety measures

Backyard swimming pools are a great place to spend time with friends and family to beat the heat during the hot summer months.  Whether you have an in-ground pool, or plan to blow up an inflatable kiddie pool this summer, it comes with great responsibility.

Hopefully, with the right safeguards in place, you can avoid injuries and lawsuits.  But even accidents happen, and if the unexpected occurs, do you have the right insurance in place?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 7.4 million swimming pools and five million hot tubs in residential or public use in the United States.

Furthermore, there are over 3,400 fatal drownings in the United States each year with more than 20% of victims being a child age 14 or younger.

Tragically, children ages one to four are the most likely to drown in residential swimming pools. Quite often, these young children were out of sight for less than five minutes AND were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

Bottom line… you can never be too safe.

If you currently own, or are considering purchasing a pool or spa, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) recommends taking the following steps:

1. Contact your town or municipality

Each town will have its own definition of what constitutes a "pool," often based on its size and the depth of the water. If your pool meets the definition, then you must comply with local safety standards and building codes, which may include installing a fence of a certain size, locks, decks and pool safety equipment.

2. Call your insurance agent or company representative

Let your insurance company know that you have a pool, since it will increase your liability risk.

Generally speaking, your home insurance provides two basic coverages: (1) coverage for damages to your home and other structures on the premises (e.g., pools), and (2) liability protection in the event someone sues you.

When you install a pool in your backyard, you increase the likelihood that you will need to call on your insurance company to cover you in one or both of these situations.

Due to the fact that pools are considered an "attractive nuisance" (essentially, a hazardous object or condition on your property that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk), you may need to purchase additional liability insurance.

Most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. However, pool owners may want to consider increasing that amount. The I.I.I. recommends increasing those limits to $300,000 or $500,000.

Our recommendation is you should have at least $500,000.

In addition to increasing your liability coverage, you may want to speak with your agent about purchasing a Personal Umbrella Liability policy. For an additional premium of about $200 to $300 a year, you can get $1,000,000 of liability protection over and above what you have on your home.

You will also want to have enough insurance protection to replace the pool, and all the surrounding furniture, in the event of a storm, disaster, vandalism, and yes... even a car ending up in your pool.

3. Install a gate or fence to completely surround all four sides of the pool or spa

If your home serves as one of those sides, be sure you have the appropriate alarms, locks and safety covers in place.

4. Create layers of protection surrounding the pool or spa area

In order to prevent children from wandering into the pool or spa area unsupervised, you can create several layers of protection including door and fence alarms, locks and safety covers.

These layers of protection are also important for keeping any unwanted or unauthorized guests from entering your pool when you're not home.

5. Never leave small children unsupervised – even for a few seconds

Toys and floatation devices have proven to be a deadly temptation for small children, as they try to reach them and fall into the pool.

6. Keep children away from pool filters and any other mechanical devices

The suction force may injure a child or prevent them from surfacing. For emergency purposes, know how to shut these devices off and post instructions for how to do so. 

7. Ask if pool users know how to swim

Learners should be accompanied by a good swimmer. Never let anyone swim alone. And if you have small children, make sure they take swim lessons as soon as possible. 

8. Keep the area around the pool clean

Make sure there are no glass bottles, toys, electrical devices, or any other potentially hazardous items around the pool. 

9. Limit alcohol use around the pool

Drinking alcoholic beverages can negatively impact balance, coordination and judgement – and its effects are further heightened by sun exposure and heat.

10. Be prepared for an emergency

Clearly post emergency numbers near the pool along with a first aid kit, ring buoys, and reaching poles. You may also want to consider learning basic water rescue skills, including first aid and CPR training.

For additional information, contact the American Red Cross.

Owning a pool can be a big responsibility. However, by following basic pool safety rules, and having the right home insurance and umbrella liability coverage in place, you can help ensure that your pool is a source of summer fun instead of stress. 

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Category: Homeowners Insurance (3), Umbrella Insurance (3), Safety Tips (3)