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A swimming pool is a common feature in many American backyards. However, swimming pools can be considered an attractive nuisance, which can attract children to your yard and increase your liability risk as a homeowner. An estimated 6,800 children younger than 15 years old were treated in the emergency room in 2021 for pool-related injuries, with 45% of those injuries occurring in residential pools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Regardless of the type of pool you own, there is a risk of accidents leading to injuries or property damage. Whether you already have a pool on your premises or are considering adding one, you should check in advance if your home insurance will cover these risks.
- Not all property insurers will insure a home with a pool.
- The type of pool determines how it’s covered, whether through personal property coverage or other structures coverage.
- Your liability coverage may not be enough to cover pool-related injuries.
Will your homeowners insurance cover damage to your pool?
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 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 tap on your diving board
- Having a lock on your ladder into an above-ground swimming pool
Once you have homeowners coverage secured, liability coverage would extend to your pool, and damage to the pool itself would be protected under a different coverage type on your policy.
If it is an above-ground pool, your insurance company will most likely consider it part of your personal property if there are no permanent structures, like decks, attached to it. This is because, if you wanted, you could take it with you when you move. However, personal property coverage may have both a policy limit and a category limit for your pool. Even though you may have $125,000 in personal property coverage, you may not get the entire amount for your pool if it is damaged or destroyed. Talk with your insurer about any coverage limitations your homeowners policy has toward an above-ground pool.
The type of pool you have determines which coverage applies and the type of perils covered:
- Above-ground pools are covered under personal property or other structures coverage, if permanently installed.
- In-ground pools are usually covered under dwelling or other structures coverage.
Will your homeowners insurance cover pool-related injuries?
Your homeowners insurance may cover pool-related injuries, depending on how the injury happens, your local laws on residential swimming pools and what safety features you put in place. If someone uses your pool without permission and gets hurt, you may not be held responsible. But if they are invited and get injured, you may be held responsible for their injuries.
If someone were injured while using your pool, generally, the personal liability coverage on your homeowners policy would cover the associated costs. Having safety features in place to reduce the risk of injuries can also 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 putting a fence around your pool with a locking gate or removing the pool’s ladder to help restrict access.
Choosing the right level of liability coverage is also important to protect your financial well-being. Even if your liability coverage extends to pool-related injuries, consider speaking with an insurance agent to understand the right coverage limit for you.
Do you need a personal umbrella policy?
Getting a personal umbrella policy is not required, but is worth considering if you have a swimming pool on your property, as it provides you with much more financial protection than a standard homeowners policy.
An umbrella policy adds additional 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. 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. These costs could easily exceed even the highest liability limit coverage option on your standard homeowners policy. 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.
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 additional steps to reduce the risk of injury or damage to your pool. Taking the proper steps can help protect yours’ as well as others’s safety:
- Install a fence around your 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 ones from getting hurt. Make sure the gate is lockable to help keep people away from your pool. 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 six 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. This way you’ll be alerted if someone is near your pool without your permission or knowledge.
- Never swim alone. Swimming alone can increase the chances of an accident happening, and 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 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, especially when not in use, 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.