Homeowners Insurance with a Swimming Pool
The process of searching for the ideal home that you and your family will live in for at least the next several years (and quite possibly much longer) involves taking plenty of critical factors under consideration. Things aren’t much different when you finally purchase the property.
Homeowners insurance is one of the biggest factors, and many subcategories stem from it. Some of those secondary topics are much more important than others, of course; strong dwelling and liability protections are most likely more important than optional coverage for “green” home improvements, for example.
Is a Swimming Pool Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Certain aesthetic features are definitely worth examining from an insurance perspective, and a swimming pool on your property represents one of the biggest add-ons.
Pools are great for bringing families and friends together during the summer months, and since most home insurance policies cover them in one way or another, they’re worth adding to your property if you can afford to do so.
But the various coverage implications of pools (and hot tubs) can get a little bit complicated, so take the time to review these major facts before committing to any expense.
4 Major Facts You Need to Know About Pools and Homeowners Insurance
There are 4 main factors to consider regarding homeowners insurance with a pool.
1. Coverage Varies Based on the Type of Pool You Own
Whether you ultimately choose an above-ground, in-ground pool, or hot tub for your property depends on numerous factors: the size and spatial aspects of your backyard, the plumbing infrastructure surrounding your property, your budget, and more. The choice you eventually make will determine which aspect of your homeowners insurance policy covers the pool after it has been installed.
This will matter the most if the “other structures” portion of your plan has a lower coverage limit than the dwelling or personal property protections. If so, you should strongly consider paying extra for a higher maximum dollar amount on the other structures part of your plan. Similarly, paying for additional property coverage would be worthwhile if the pool falls under that aspect of your insurance. If the policy’s wording is unclear, be sure to review your policy with your insurance agent as soon as possible to figure out which aspect of the plan pertains to your pool.
2. Insurers Do Not Always View Pool Ownership Favorably
Regardless of which specific tenet of your policy covers it, a pool will almost definitely be protected by your insurance. That being said, the Insurance Information Institute points out that insurers may not exactly be thrilled by this addition to your home, as pools are frequently categorized as “attractive nuisances” by the industry.
The term refers to a provision of tort law in the U.S. that places liability squarely on home or property owners when non-resident children are injured.
Specifically, it applies “if the injury results from a hazardous object or condition … that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition,” per the explanation of Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.
Even children trespassing on your property, who were injured sneaking into your pool, might still trigger this liability. As such, they may require you to pay for more substantial liability coverage (more on this below) or increase your overall premium amount without specifying the reason, which insurers are well within their rights to do.
Last but not least, be sure to notify your insurer before you purchase or install a pool (or immediately after doing so). It changes the value of your home, which may necessitate buying more coverage. If you don’t, and your coverage provider doesn’t make the necessary changes to your policy, you may end up having a claim denied for nondisclosure if your pool is damaged in a loss that would otherwise be covered.
3. Liability Coverage is Critical for All Pool Owners
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 6,400 pool- or spa-related non fatal drownings, all of which required emergency-room treatment, afflicted children younger than 15 years old every year from 2015 through 2017. About 73% of these incidents involved children younger than 5. From 2013 through 2015, there were about 351 drowning deaths of children under 15, and 73% of those fatalities were children under 5.
Taking these facts into account, it should be perfectly clear why you need ironclad liability protections in your homeowners insurance policy if you’re going to install a pool or hot tub on your property.
In the worst-case scenario of an accidental drowning death in your pool, the deceased’s understandably aggrieved relatives may file a lawsuit claiming wrongful death due to negligence. The legal expenses involved in mounting any defense of such allegations will be massive. Also, the tragic incident and its aftermath would take a considerable psychological toll on all involved, so the security of knowing legal fees (and, potentially, settlements) are covered by insurance means having one less thing to trouble you under unfathomable conditions.
The I.I.I. recommends that pool owners pay whatever is necessary to increase their liability coverage to $500,000 from the $100,000 that is standard for many policies. If that amount is too much to handle at the moment, bring it up to at least $300,000.
4. Umbrella Coverage May be Necessary
Umbrella liability protection is an optional addendum to your homeowners insurance, one that significantly increases the dollars-and-cents limit of your standard liability coverage. According to the I.I.I., you’ll likely pay an extra $200 or $300 per year in premiums to enjoy the safeguards of umbrella liability coverage, but having it gives you $1 million in liability protection over and above what you already have insuring your home. In the long run, shelling out more in premiums to obtain this protection may be the best possible choice for a pool owner.
Safety Tips for Pool Owners
The best way to avoid liability for injuries to your guests stemming from pool ownership is taking precautions to mitigate their occurrence. Start with the following, adapted from the USCPSC’s Pool Safely initiative and the I.I.I.:
You can stay awfully cool in a backyard pool and have great times with families and friends that you’ll cherish for years to come, so feel free to install one if it’s within your budget. Just remember to be safe and adjust your homeowners insurance policy to prepare for every eventuality.