When it comes to your homeowners insurance covering your swimming pool — homeowners insurance helps in two ways. If your pool is damaged by a covered loss, such as a fire, lightning strikes, or vandalism, coverage for the structure of your home or coverage for personal belongings, can help pay for repairs. Your homeowners policy also offers liability protection, which can help pay for bills related to an injury occurring in or around your pool. However, it is important to note that your policy limits will most likely need to be adjusted to ensure you have the adequate coverage for your swimming pool.
Homeowners should also be aware that some insurance carriers do not cover an in-ground or above-ground pool due to their underwriting guidelines at all, making it essential to work with an experienced independent insurance agent, like HIG, when deciding whether to install a pool at your home or not. Keep in mind that if you fail to disclose your pool to your insurer, your entire policy could be dropped and voided once they discover that you have an undisclosed pool. Meaning, not only will you lose your insurance coverage, any claims related to your pool will likely not be covered as well.
Here at HIG, we understand all the benefits of having a pool in your backyard and also how complicated it is to insure your investment. Which is why we want to make sure that you understand all the risks of owning a pool and that you are protected with the right insurance coverage so you can enjoy that refreshing plunge into the icy cool water worry-free.
To help, we’re explaining answering some commonly asked questions we receive about insuring a backyard pool.
In-Ground vs. Above-Ground — Does Insurance Coverage Differ?
The short answer is yes. The insurance coverage that applies to your pool typically depends on what kind of pool you own. An above-ground pool is generally covered by the personal property coverage of your homeowners policy, while an in-ground pool is usually covered by other structures coverage.
Understanding this difference is the first step to properly insuring this structure. For example, if your above-ground pool is covered by personal property, this then falls into the same category as furniture and jewelry. You’ll want to check with an independent agent to see if there is a claim limit for swimming pools and adjust your personal property coverage accordingly.
On the other hand, if your pool is covered under the other structures portion of your homeowners insurance, this typically covers other structures up to ten percent of your dwelling coverage. In the event that this limit does not provide sufficient coverage for your in-ground pool, you can increase this coverage for an added cost.
Both types of pools, above-ground and in-ground, increase your liability risk, however, above-ground pools also present an additional risk of flooding your basement or yard if the pool structure is ever damaged. Here at HIG, our trusted insurance agents have extensive experience working with homeowners throughout the south coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and will find the proper coverage to fit your needs and budget.
Am I Covered if Someone Slips and Falls or is Injured at My Pool?
If someone is injured in and around your pool, the liability protection portion of your homeowners insurance will help pay for the injured person’s medical bills and will also help protect you against lawsuits. Most homeowners insurance policies include a minimum of $100,000 of liability protection, but the Insurance Information Institute recommends that pool owners increase the liability portion of their homeowners policy to at least $300,000 or $500,000 — more, if their assets warrant it.
It is no secret that pools expose you to additional risks — one of these being someone you may not know getting injured on your property. A swimming pool is considered an ‘attractive nuisance’ by the insurance industry, which is defined as something that is so interesting that it would entice a child into entering another’s property. Because of this designation homeowners are responsible for taking safety measures to prevent this from happening… but for anyone who uses it. That means if a stranger decides to hop your fence and cool off in your pool — you are responsible for that individual.
Because of this, some insurance carriers may require that your pool is fully enclosed by a fence that is at least four feet high with a self-latching gate. In addition to requirements by your insurance company, most towns have their own regulations. An HIG agent can help you understand your local by-laws and ordinances to make sure your backyard swimming pool not only complies with the regulations of your town, but also those required by your insurance carrier.
Is My Pool Covered if I Add a Diving Board or Slide?
Before you add a diving board or slide to your swimming pool, you’ll want to check with your independent insurance agent. Diving boards and slides may seem like they can make your pool much more fun, but statistically they increase the likelihood that someone will be injured. Therefore, some insurance companies will not provide coverage at all or will have you sign an exclusion, which will not provide liability coverage for injuries involving either of these two pool accessories.
Do I Need Extra Insurance For My Pool?
Many people believe that their current homeowners insurance policy alone will cover their swimming pool, however, this is not always the case. A typical homeowners insurance policy includes four essential types of coverage. They include:
- Coverage for the structure of the home — pays to repair or rebuild a home if it is damaged or destroyed by a fire or other covered loss.
- Coverage for personal belongings — furniture, clothes, and other personal items are covered if stolen or destroyed by a covered loss, up to the limits of your policy.
- Liability protection — protects against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that policyholders or family members cause to other people.
- Additional living expenses — can cover the additional costs of living away from home if a house is uninhabitable due to a covered loss.
We can’t stress enough that the addition of a swimming pool in your backyard increases your liability risk. That’s why for most pool owners, we recommend purchasing an added layer of protection — a personal umbrella insurance policy. An umbrella insurance policy helps safeguard you against risks and exposures that are too great for your underlying policies to handle. With the additional protection of an umbrella insurance you will have:
- Excess liability above your current homeowners insurance policy
- Protection against judgements against you in a lawsuit
- Coverage for legal fees associated with claims against you
You will also have peace of mind, knowing that you and your family are shielded from unforeseen costs in the event that someone is seriously injured on your property.
Summer is in full swing and here at HIG, we want you to kick back and relax with family and friends knowing you have the proper coverage for your backyard swimming pool. If you are thinking about adding a swimming sanctuary to your backyard or if you are already reading this poolside — let an HIG insurance agent review your current policies to ensure you are protected. If you still have questions and need answers, a trusted advisor at HIG, is happy to help. Contact us today at (508) 676-5949 or stop by our offices located in Fall River and Somerset, Massachusetts.