THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2017
Whether you're looking to buy a home that has a swimming pool OR are considering installing one at your existing home, Ohio homeowners insurance companies view swimming pools with concern. And depending on the swimming pool, it could prevent you from getting homeowners insurance OR cause your policy to be cancelled. This post provides many helpful tips to prevent either of these situations from happening, as well as discusses reasons why homeowners insurance companies are so concerned with swimming pools. On to that first.....
Swimming Pools and the idea of "Attractive Nuisance"
There's a term in the insurance industry called "attractive nuisance." Attractive nuisances are simply features of a home that invite trespassers and can often result in injury, or in the worst case scenario, death. And before you respond trespassers shouldn't be on your property, please know that many states don't care. If it's YOUR property, YOU'RE responsible.
As you can imagine, swimming pools are inviting, but mostly to young kids. The following statistics back up this statement in regards to unintentional drowning (CDC- Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts):
- From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day.
- About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
- Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects).
Some of the risk factors that influence unintentional drowning include (also taken from the same CDC report listed above):
- Lack of Swimming Ability: Many adults and children report that they can’t swim (if your young one hasn't yet had swim lessons, this is all too likely. Many older kids also never learned how to swim either).
- Lack of Barriers: Barriers, such as pool fencing, prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.
- Location: People of different ages drown in different locations. For example, most children ages 1-4 drown in home swimming pools.
Hopefully this helps you see why homeowners insurance companies are so concerned with swimming pools.
Can I Get Homeowners Insurance with a Swimming Pool?
MAYBE. I know, I hate that answer too. But it depends on several factors.
First, it IS possible that your homeowners insurance company doesn't allow swimming pools at all. My advice is to ASK FIRST! You'd hate to get that cancellation notice in the mail. Or even worse, discovering that a claim won't be paid AFTER the claim has already happened (shudder). So ask, And if your company won't allow it, and you really have your heart set on a swimming pool, go find a company that will allow it.
If Your Homeowners Insurance Allows Swimming Pools, Here's How It Needs to Be Protected
Remember the Lack of Barriers risk factor listed above? This is the biggest requirement for homeowners insurance companies. You have to restrict access to the pool, no exceptions. The most common way to do this is with fencing. For inground pools, property line fencing that encloses the pool (and usually most of the backyard) is most common. It must have a locking gate as well. For above-ground pools, restricting access is important as well. A removable ladder, as well as some sort of fencing/barrier is necessary. We've seen examples of pools that are attached to the house via a deck and side rails that has been built around the entire structure.
Fencing should also be a minimum height. In checking our underwriting guidelines, most of our companies say a minimum of 3 feet OR as required by code. The higher the better honestly. The point is to keep people out and if you make it easy to get in, you're just wasting your money and defeating the purpose.
These are just examples of what we've seen in our 30 years- you MUST ask your insurance agent what is acceptable for your company. And make sure it's as specific as possible. There's nothing worse than doing a bunch a work only to find out it's not what they wanted. And the cancellation notice still comes.
What Are Other Homeowners Insurance Considerations about Swimming Pools?
Diving boards are also a concern. Some insurance companies may allow them, others not at all. If allowed, there will most likely be a minimum depth requirement based on the type of diving board. With diving boards, the biggest concern is the likelihood of head injury.
What about slides? Also somewhat of a concern, but not as much as diving boards. Swimming pools and their related accessories are just a breeding ground for injury, and some can be extremely serious.
You May Also Want to Consider a Personal Umbrella if you get a swimming pool
Trust me, if you get a pool, you need a personal umbrella. This policy provides additional liability coverage BEYOND what your homeowners insurance policy provides. You may know someone who was seriously injured in a swimming pool accident or heard stories, but it does happen. So don't take the chance. Read our article- What Is Personal Umbrella Insurance and How Does it Work?- for more details.
The Bottom line is: find out your homeowners insurance company stand on swimming pools FIRST before you start making decisions or investing a lot of money. If your company doesn't allow pools, give us a call at (937) 592-4871.We have several that do- let's talk about it and see what we can do to help you! You can also request your homeowners insurance quote directly from our website.
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