Summer is fast approaching, and temperatures are edging up all across the country. As the days get warmer and kids get out of school, the thought of spending the long, hot days by a cool pool can be irresistible.
If you are thinking of getting a swimming pool, you should take the time to see how this addition will affect your homeowners insurance policy. Having a pool on your property increases risk, both for yourself and any guests you might have . So it's a given that your liability insurance costs will go up. Here's what you need to know about your insurance policy, and other things you should consider before installing a pool.
What Are Your State and Local Swimming Pool requirements?
Depending on where you live, there might be local requirements that you need to be aware of that could impact your pool installation. For example, some jurisdictions require that any pool be surrounded by a gate that can be locked. This is to prevent drownings (and it might keep wildlife out of your pool). In areas of Florida, you may want to get a stronger fence specifically to keep wildlife out.
Some states and municipalities have very specific regulations requiring the distance of the fencing from the pool, the height of the fencing, and even the types of locks that might be required. Research and know what these requirements are before you install a pool. Also keep in mind what kind of “extras” you were hoping to have: slides or a diving board might be prohibited by local ordinances or your homeowners policy. An above-ground pool could also be treated differently. If you have questions, your insurance agent can help.
Does Your Homeowners Policy Cover Your Pool?
There are different provisions in your policy that will be affected by a pool. One is coverage for the structure itself covering the value of the actual, physical pool. An in-ground pool is considered an additional structure, and is likely included in the “covered structures” portion of your homeowners policy, but you need to check what the limits are.
“Covered structures” generally have a limit, and you want to make sure that in case of a storm or other damage that the full value of your pool is covered. Coverage generally excludes damage caused by neglect. Pools require considerable maintenance, and even a small leak could lead to mold and other serious issues. So make sure you're ready for the commitment.
Some homeowners policies may require you to buy additional swimming pool insurance. For liability purposes, you may want to do this anyway.
Above-ground pools are not considered an additional structure, as they can easily be removed from a property. This means that they are not going to be included in “covered structures,” and you may need to purchase additional insurance to cover any damage that might occur. “Pop-ups” — which are large versions of kiddie inflatable pools — are so low in cost that they might not be eligible for structure coverage, but keep in mind that they are still considered pools for liability coverage.
Is Your Liability Coverage Enough for a Swimming Pool?
Regardless of the type of pool you might choose, you will need to discuss liability coverage with your carrier. Insurers consider pools to be an “attractive nuisance.” Drownings are the top cause of in-home deaths for children under the age of five in some warm-weather states. Having a pool means you must increase your liability coverage, and you might also want to consider additional umbrella coverage too.
Many of these restrictions, regulations, and additional coverage for pools also apply to hot tubs and spas. So if you are considering adding one of these, check with your carrier to find out how your policy might change.
Keep in mind, fault often doesn't matter in swimming pool-related lawsuits. In short, even if you are responsible and follow every law to prevent drownings and other injuries, you could still get sued. Pool insurance coverage is one way to protect yourself with a permanent structure. Just make sure to talk to a homeowners insurance coverage agent about all your options.
Is It Worth Having a Pool in Your Home?
While there are things to think about, installing a pool can also increase the value of your home. To find out more about how different carriers address pool coverage, check out the top homeowners insurance companies.
The medical costs of even a single claim can be high. Replacement cost if something breaks is also high. Whether your dwelling coverage requires additional coverage or not, you may want to consider an umbrella liability policy. Responsible ownership can significantly reduce your liability risk, which is part of why so many homes continue to have pools on their property.
To find out more about how different carriers address pool coverage, check out the top homeowners insurance companies.
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