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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for children ages one to four and the second leading cause of death for children ages five to 14. For this reason (among others), insurance companies are concerned with the increased liability risk of insuring homes with swimming pools. Whether you are considering installing a pool or buying a home with an existing pool, it is important to understand whether your homeowners insurance will cover your swimming pool and related incidents.
- Not all property insurers will insure a home with a pool.
- The type of pool determines how it's covered. Small above-ground pools may be considered personal property, while permanent above-ground pools and in-ground pools are usually deemed other structures. Indoor pools and outdoor in-ground pools that share the same foundation as the home are usually classified under dwelling coverage.
- Your personal liability coverage may not be enough to cover pool-related injuries. Insurance professionals recommend adding a personal umbrella policy for an enhanced level of financial protection if you have a swimming pool.
Does homeowners insurance cover pool damage?
Whether your homeowners insurance policy will cover your pool largely depends on your property insurance company. Some insurers will not issue a policy if there is a pool on the property. Other insurers or municipalities may have specific criteria that must be met before your policy goes into effect, such as:
- Having a self-latching, gated fence around the pool perimeter
- Placing lights around the pool to reduce the risk of someone slipping or falling
- Putting non-skid surface tape on your diving board
- Having a lock on your ladder into an above-ground swimming pool
Once you have homeowners coverage secured, personal liability coverage would extend to your pool, and damage to the pool itself would likely be protected under one of three coverage types on your policy — dwelling, other structures or personal property.
In most cases, above-ground pools are considered personal property, but not always. If your swimming pool is disassembled and stored for the winter, it will fall under the personal property category. However, some above-ground pools are designed to remain in place year-round and require mild land alterations. As such, these pools would be considered permanent and belong to the other structures category.
Since in-ground pools are permanent, they are typically classified as other structures, as well. Even when a homeowner builds a deck attaching the pool to the home, damage to the deck is covered under dwelling coverage and the pool is covered under other structures. However, indoor or outdoor pools that share the same foundation as the home are usually covered by dwelling coverage since they are genuinely attached to the home.
You may be wondering why it matters which coverage type pays out for a claim so long as your pool is covered. It’s important because the coverage limit you will have access to after a loss varies depending on the insurance type.
Personal property coverage applies to almost anything you own that is not attached to the dwelling. Basic above-ground pools can cost between $1,000 to $2,000, so you will likely have enough coverage if you need to file a claim.
However, other structures coverage is usually 10 percent of your home’s dwelling coverage limit. So for a home insured for $250,000, you would have a limit of $25,000 for all detached structures on your property. A covered claim that destroys a pool would also probably damage a homeowner’s deck, shed and detached garage — all of which are covered under the other structures limit. Anytime you add additional structures to your property, check with your insurance agent to make sure you still have adequate coverage. Most insurance companies allow policyholders to purchase additional other structures coverage if needed.
Does homeowners insurance cover pool-related injuries?
Your homeowners insurance may cover pool-related injuries depending on how the injury happens, what local laws exist surrounding residential swimming pools and which safety features you have in place. Homeowners insurance can pay injury claims through medical payments coverage or personal liability coverage. The main difference between these two coverage types is coverage level and negligence.
Medical payments coverage
Medical payments coverage provides payments toward medical-related expenses when a guest in your home gets injured, regardless of negligence. The coverage limit for medical payments is usually between $1,000 to $5,000, but higher limits may be purchased. This coverage aims to cover small medical claims before they escalate into a lawsuit. According to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), the average claim under medical payments coverage between 2017 and 2021 was $10,179.
Personal liability coverage
Personal liability coverage limits usually start at $100,000 and go up from there. The average limit for most homeowners is $300,000. To access this coverage, the homeowner must be found negligent for bodily injury or damage sustained by another person or their property. Liability coverage can apply to medical payments, property, and pain and suffering. Triple-I found that one out of 1,670 homeowners policies have a liability claim each year and the average claim payout between 2017 and 2021 was $31,663.
Having safety features in place to reduce the risk of injuries can also potentially help reduce your extent of liability. Many property insurers will ask you to put safety measures in place to limit the risk of pool-related injuries, like fencing in your pool with a locking gate or removing the pool’s ladder to help restrict access.
Choosing the right level of liability coverage is important to protect your financial well-being. Even if your liability coverage extends to pool-related injuries, consider speaking with an insurance agent to determine the right coverage limit for you.
What is an attractive nuisance?
Similar to playgrounds and trampolines, insurance companies deem swimming pools an “attractive nuisance.” An attractive nuisance is an artificial condition or device that attracts children and lures them into perilous situations. Children of “tender years” — each state has its own definition of age meeting this requirement, but generally, it’s under the age of eight — do not have the capacity to understand the true dangers of certain situations or have the ability to save themselves when something goes wrong.
According to Cornell Law School, the attractive nuisance doctrine imposes a higher level of responsibility on homeowners who have created dangerous conditions that attract children to their property. Children receive the status of invitees, meaning whether they are trespassing or invited, they have the same level of protection under the law. Homeowners are usually required to provide warnings and/or minimize potential risks per city, county and state that dictate how fortified swimming pools should be. This is also why insurance companies have stringent underwriting and swimming pool insurance requirements.
How personal umbrella policies can help pool owners
Getting a personal umbrella policy is not required, but it is worth considering if you have a swimming pool on your property. Umbrella policies provide more financial protection than a standard homeowners policy. An umbrella policy adds liability protection beyond your existing homeowners insurance policy and generally applies once your homeowners liability limits have been exhausted.
With an umbrella policy, homeowners typically have $1 million or more in additional liability protection for both their homes and vehicles. Should someone die or become seriously injured while using your pool, an umbrella policy would help pay for their funeral or medical costs, as well as any of your legal fees from the incident.
Insurance companies require policyholders to have liability limits that meet specific guidelines before issuing an umbrella policy. Typically, most standard home insurance policies offer $100,000 to $500,000 in liability coverage. Still, costs like medical expenses could easily exceed even the highest liability limit coverage option on a standard homeowners policy. And if you do not have an umbrella policy and your standard homeowners policy is maxed out, any additional costs would have to be paid by you.
What is not covered by insurance related to swimming pools?
As long as your insurance company does not exclude coverage for swimming pools, the same rules apply to swimming pools as any other structure or personal item. The following are some of the losses insurance will not cover for swimming pools:
- Pool damage from an excluded peril, such as an earthquake or flood
- Intentional damage to the pool done by the insured
- Damage from failure to maintain the pool
- Wear and tear
Insurance professionals recommend contacting your insurance agent to discuss policy coverage upon installing an in-ground or above-ground pool on your property. If your insurance provider inquires about your pool and you deny that there is one or state that there are safety measures in place that aren’t, your insurer could view this as material misrepresentation. Material misrepresentation is a valid reason for insurance companies to deny pool claims and possibly cancel the insurance policy mid-term.
Safety steps to take when you have a pool
Though your swimming pool will most likely be covered under personal property or other structures, you should consider following these steps to reduce the risk of injury or damage to your pool:
- Install a fence around the pool with a lockable gate. Pools are often alluring to the public, and a sturdy fence is a great first line of defense to prevent trespassers or young children from getting hurt. Many insurers will ask if your gate locks, and some insurers may ask for the height of your fence and require that it is a minimum of 6 feet tall.
- Install an alarm on your gate. Any door that leads to your pool should have an alarm that sounds whenever it is opened. The alarm should be loud enough that you can hear it anywhere in your house and should ring long enough that you clearly notice it.
- Never swim alone. Swimming alone can increase the chance of an accident happening. Even minor accidents can turn serious when no one else is around. Implementing a rule that no one swims alone can help keep everyone safe and ensure a fast response if an accident occurs.
- Get CPR training. CPR training is a valuable skill to have for everyone’s safety in and around the pool. CPR can save a life, and training is available through community centers, hospitals or by contacting agencies like the American Red Cross.
- Keep the area around the pool free of obstacles. Obstacles around the pool can increase the chance of injuries. Moving items like toys and chairs away from the pool can help keep people of all ages safe.
- Remove or raise ladders if possible. If your pool is above ground, consider removing or raising the ladder when your pool is not in use. This will help prevent people from getting into the pool without your permission.
Frequently asked questions
In general, all swimming pools need to be insured to help cover the costs of pool-related injuries or damage caused by named perils that occur to the pool. What that typically means is that both above-ground and built-in pools should have adequate property insurance coverage for financial security, but if you have questions, it may benefit you to speak to your insurance agent about insuring your particular swimming pool.
Many homeowners insurance companies cover swimming pools under the appropriate policy coverage type — dwelling, other structures or personal property. Injuries sustained by a guest using the pool typically fall under your home’s medical payments or personal liability coverage. To make sure you have adequate coverage when adding a pool to your property, you will likely want to speak with an agent about adding the replacement cost of your pool to the correct coverage on your policy. For example, if your above-ground pool costs $15,000 to install and is considered an “other structure,” you may need to increase your current other structures coverage limit by $15,000.
Yes, it can be more expensive to insure a home with a pool. Plus, not all property insurers will insure a home with a pool, which can limit the options you may have or increase your homeowners premium. Another factor to consider is that you may have to increase your liability coverage or may want to consider a personal umbrella policy due to the increased risk of someone being injured in your pool. If you’re trying to cut down on the cost of insuring a swimming pool, it may help to consider bundling your auto and homeowners policies with the same company or asking about safety features like door alarms and deadbolt locks, all of which may earn you a discount on your premium.
It depends. Although home insurance may cover repairs in certain cases, a swimming pool collapse will typically only be covered if the collapse is due to a covered peril. For example, if a tree falls on the pool during a covered event, the collapse could be covered. However, if the pool’s collapse is caused by other issues, like a lack of maintenance or neglect, it would not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. To cover damage to your pool caused by earthquakes or floods, you need to purchase separate coverage.