Because of the potential fun and entertainment value, if you have a large, healthy tree in your yard, a treehouse can seem like a tempting proposition.
Before you start construction on your new treetop hangout, however, it is important to think through potential insurance ramifications to understand where you may be at risk. Specifically, you need to know if your home insurance company offers coverage for treehouses, or if constructing yours could lead to a policy renewal refusal.
Does homeowners insurance cover treehouses?
Your homeowners insurance is intended to step in when life presents unexpected losses. It helps you rebuild after a fire or replace belongings stolen by a thief, for example. It offers protections beyond that, as well — ones you may need to rely on if a guest gets injured in your treehouse.
Specifically, the personal liability coverage your policy offers may be able to help you cover a guest’s medical expenses or a resulting lawsuit after a treehouse-related injury. Additionally, the other structures coverage in your policy may help with repairs if the treehouse is damaged in a storm or fire.
All of this depends on your insurance company offering coverage for treehouses, however. Some insurance companies extend protection to treehouses with no exclusions, while others will only do so if you put certain safety measures in place. You should also know that some insurance providers refuse to cover treehouses based on risk presented, and may even deny your policy renewal if you put a treehouse on your property.
Long story short, before you start building a treehouse, call your insurance company and ask how your policy might address treehouses. While it might seem perfectly acceptable to just build the treehouse and not inform your insurance provider about it, you might end up regretting that decision. If a treehouse-related incident occurs and your insurance company was unaware of the treehouse, they will very likely deny your claim.
When are treehouses covered?
Assuming you have some degree of treehouse coverage through your home insurance policy, there are a couple of specific situations in which it can step in to help you with a loss.
Consider one aspect of treehouses and insurance — damage to the actual treehouse. Does homeowners insurance cover tree houses if they get damaged by high winds, fire or a natural disaster? What about damage caused by vandals?
If your home insurance can extend to your treehouse, you can rest easy. Per the other structures portion of your policy, the same protections you have for your house should apply to your treehouse. That is, it should be protected against fire, windstorms, hail, theft, vandalism or any other covered peril listed in your policy.
Treehouses are a bit of a unique case in the insurance world, though. Before you assume your home insurance will cover treehouse damage, call your insurance company to confirm.
Liability for injuries is the primary concern associated with treehouses and insurance. The liability coverage portion of your home insurance does two things for you in the event that a guest gets injured on your property. First, it can help to pay for the resulting medical expenses. Secondly, if the guest decides to sue you for the injury, it can help with court costs and even cover the settlement, up to your policy limits.
If your home policy offers treehouse coverage, you can turn to your liability coverage to help if a guest gets hurt while climbing around in your treehouse or falls from it.
While your liability coverage can help if a guest gets injured in your treehouse, you may need to rely on your health insurance — or your health savings account, if you lack health insurance — if one of your family members gets hurt.
Treehouses vs trampolines
While the insurance considerations regarding treehouses may cause you to look elsewhere for a form of backyard entertainment, features like a trampoline or swimming pool present similar considerations.
Insurance companies consider both treehouses and trampolines attractive nuisances, which means they may attract a child who can be injured on them. In either case, insurance companies may refuse to extend coverage to the trampoline or treehouse — or even refuse to renew the policy if the homeowner puts one on the property.
In fact, trampolines are more commonly excluded from a home insurance policy’s protection. Call your insurance company to see where they stand on both before you decide which one (if any) to put in your yard.
How much does treehouse insurance cost?
Technically, treehouse insurance as a standalone policy does not exist. But your home insurance may be able to offer coverage to your new backyard addition under personal property or liability limits.
Be advised, though, that adding a treehouse may raise your home insurance costs. Not all insurance companies increase rates after a treehouse is added to a property, but some do as a way to cover the added risk that comes with the elevated hangout. Ask your insurance provider if you would pay more for your policy if you put a treehouse in your yard.
Additionally, if you need your policy to pay for damage to the treehouse, be prepared to pay your deductible. Fortunately, the deductible does not apply to liability claims, so you should not need to cover anything out-of-pocket for treehouse-related injuries any guest sustains, within limits.
A treehouse can be a fun addition to your backyard, and it will probably earn you some big brownie points with the kids. But you should know that putting in a treehouse is not without its risks. Keeping safety considerations top of mind is a best practice if you are thinking about adding a treehouse to your property..
At the same time, have a conversation with your insurance company. Not only does this ensure you have protections in place for treehouse damage or any injured guests, but it also safeguards you against a retroactive policy cancellation for misrepresentation.
With the proper steps before you start building out your treehouse, your family can enjoy it with better peace of mind.