Does Having a Trampoline Affect Homeowners Insurance?
There’s not much to a trampoline. It’s simply a piece of strong, durable fabric stretched across a metal frame, with the elasticity and resulting bounce provided by the springs that attach the two.
However, like many simple pleasures, the trampoline is more than the sum of its parts, as there’s something a wide variety of people find remarkably enjoyable about jumping, bouncing, and tumbling on the contraption.
A backyard trampoline is an easily accessible source of fun and a way to be active and engage in good-natured competition with family and friends.
Unfortunately, trampolines are also a source of potentially serious danger. A mistimed or poorly angled jump can lead to serious or even life-threatening injuries, especially when there are zero or minimal safety elements in place.
When a trampoline is on the property, many homeowners insurance companies refuse to issue insurance, require safety features to be used, or issue a trampoline exclusion.
Are Trampolines Dangerous To Have At Your Home?
There’s no doubt that trampolines are potentially dangerous. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised against home trampoline ownership and use by children, citing both the relative frequency of injuries and their potential severity.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons issued a more general position statement that noted the many potential dangers of trampolines and recommended a number of detailed safety measures whenever they are used, some of which are uncommon or impractical in many cases for home use.
The AAOS also noted that the 10-year period between 2002 and 2011 saw more than 1 million emergency department visits for trampoline-related injuries. That means more than 100,000 emergency room visits yearly, on average.
This figure is noteworthy by itself, but it’s important to remember that there are many more visits to other types of health care providers, such as primary care physicians and walk-in clinics, that aren’t recorded in emergency room statistics. Additionally, the AAOS said that some protective measures, such as netting, don’t have a strong correlation with reduced risk of injury.
The very nature of a trampoline, launching users high into the air and, for some, encouraging risky behavior, means insurers are hesitant to offer protection for homeowners who have this device on their property.
Because many policies cover not only the physical home but also the plot of land the house sits on and any outbuildings or other structures, trampoline use and any resultant injuries could require the insurer to pay out a claim. This liability doesn’t extend only to injuries, but also to lawsuits and personal injury settlements.
At this point, familiarizing yourself with the concept of an attractive nuisance in the insurance world can help you learn more about why many providers are so reluctant to issue homeowners insurance when trampolines are involved.
Attractive Nuisance According To Home Insurance
An attractive nuisance is, in simple terms, an object, feature, or other items on a homeowner’s property that draws the attention of children or teenagers while also offering some sort of potential danger.
Common Examples Include:
- Swimming Pools
- Playground Equipment
Nationwide pointed out that young children often won’t be deemed negligent if they trespass, due to their age. That means property owners will be considered liable for any injuries or other harm in a much broader set of circumstances than they would if an adult knowingly acted in a negligent manner and suffered an injury as a result of trespassing.
This is important to remember in the context of trampolines. The mix of potential for injury and appeal to children makes trampolines an especially serious risk and one that for some insurers is too large to take.
For other companies, a trampoline may be allowed if certain considerations are made. A combination of protective features, such as digging a pit to put the trampoline’s surface at ground level, liberal application of padding to the frame and springs, and barriers, like fences and locked gates, can make insuring a property with a trampoline more palatable.
Other insurers will place an exception on the trampoline, allowing homeowners to receive a policy and maintain ownership, but also not cover any incidents that may occur related to it.
This may sound attractive at first, but it’s important to remember that having to pay for medical bills, much less contend with the cost and stress of lawsuits tied to those injuries, can be a major problem for homeowners.
Why You Shouldn’t Hide Your Trampoline From Your Home Insurance Inspection
Owning a trampoline before you apply for a homeowners insurance policy may require you to take steps to make it less of an attractive nuisance or injury risk, or to remove it from your property entirely.
Some may consider putting their existing trampoline away and then reassembling it after an inspection happens and a policy is issued or buying a new one once the policy is in place. While it might be a momentarily exciting concept, it’s a bad idea for a number of reasons. This attempt to work around the rules put in place by your insurer can quickly backfire.
If your insurer finds out you have a trampoline on your property, they will likely have the standing to quickly cancel your policy. That only makes it more difficult to find coverage in the future and will leave your home, its contents, and the surrounding area uninsured until you can secure a new homeowners insurance policy.
While home insurers don’t conduct many random inspections of customers’ property, they will send out an agent if you file a claim in the future. Insurers that recognize a trampoline which wasn’t disclosed during the application process or added to a policy once it was purchased are often within their rights to deny any future claims.
That doesn’t only involve claims tied to the trampoline itself, but any covered peril. The negative outcomes of having a serious claim, such as one filed due to a fire, wind damage, or theft, denied only because of the presence of an unauthorized trampoline on your property are too serious to ignore.
It’s simply not worth it to try to sneak a trampoline onto your property when the potential for serious complications and claims denials for any subsequent incident is so great.
Options For Homeowners With A Trampoline
If you decide you must have a trampoline on your property, there are a few things to consider as you attempt to secure homeowners insurance with this attractive nuisance present.
One important concept to recognize is the size and variability of the home insurance industry. There are many large, midsize, and small insurers operating in the market, and they offer a broad range of potential options and coverage types.
With enough time spent searching online and reaching out for information, you could find a provider that is willing to insure your home and surrounding property, trampoline included.
Just remember that a variety of additional expenses may be incurred as compared to a policy for the same property without a trampoline present.
There’s the potential for the policy itself to come with a higher premium cost, due to the need to purchase supplemental coverage for the trampoline. You may also have to invest in protective features for the trampoline, such as netting that helps to reduce the chances of users falling off the trampoline, as well as padding that surrounds any potentially harmful parts of the structure.
You may also need to install features on your property that prevent uninvited guests, especially children, and teenagers, from attempting to use the trampoline. Along with adding these items, you will likely also have to maintain them and keep them in good working order.
The other alternative is to find a local trampoline facility, where you can use a trampoline in what is often a more controlled and safer setting. This option, when available, allows you and your family to enjoy a trampoline without being liable for injuries to guests, or having to deal with the increased costs that can come along with a policy that includes this fun-yet-dangerous device.