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.
Swimming pools can even prevent you from getting homeowners insurance OR cause your policy to be cancelled. Before you take the “plunge”, read this blog for reasons why homeowners insurance companies are so concerned with swimming pools, as well as helpful tips to prevent issues with your Ohio homeowners insurance.
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 are appealing to others and can often result in injury, or in the worst case scenario, death. And before you respond people shouldn’t be on your property without your permission, please know that many states don’t care. If it’s YOUR property, YOU’RE responsible.
When “Attractive Nuisance” turns deadly
As you can imagine, swimming pools are inviting, but mostly to young kids. And it’s overwhelmingly children that suffer the worst fate when a swimming pool is involved. The following statistics relate 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.
So can I get homeowners insurance with a swimming pool?
Maybe. I know- terrible answer, but it honestly depends on many factors, the simplest being whether or not your homeowners insurance company allows one in the first place. Yes, it’s possible an insurance company doesn’t allow them. So ask. IF your homeowners insurance does not allow a swimming pool, there are plenty that do, subject to certain guidelines.
Other factors such as access to the pool and pool features also can make or break eligibility. Let’s dig deeper in the next few sections.
How does access to the pool make a difference with homeowners insurance?
Remember the Lack of Barriers risk factor listed above? This is the biggest requirement for Ohio 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 have 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 other pool features could make or break my homeowners insurance?
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? May also be a no-go. Again, when in doubt, ask your insurance company what is acceptable. Swimming pools and their related features are just a breeding ground for injury, and some can be extremely serious.
One last recommendation- a personal umbrella policy
Although we make it a regular habit to recommend personal umbrella insurance (because you never how big the claim is going to be), a swimming pool is one of those special situations where a personal umbrella is a must. All it takes is one slip and a head injury and your homeowners insurance coverage is gone in a flash. The personal umbrella policy provides additional coverage beyond your homeowners insurance and for pennies on the dollar.