Published: February 2015
A backyard ice rink can really liven up the dark months of winter. With just a few supplies, including a bit of lumber, a plastic tarp and a garden hose, you can build your own rink and be the envy of the neighborhood.
Of course, you'll have to be ready for the inevitable skating parties with all the local kids. But that's also why you may want to think about more than just the entertainment value of the project — you also may want to consider the risks that can go along with having and maintaining a backyard ice rink.
What if someone takes a bad fall? What if a kid hits a hockey puck through a window and causes damage inside?
The reality is that scenarios such as these can turn into a big headache if you end up on the receiving end of a lawsuit. And while you might assume your homeowners insurance will cover you, do you know that it actually will?
Before you build your rink, you may want to learn whether your liability insurance will offer protection in the event of an accident. Look over the exclusions in your policy or check with your agent to find out if your rink is covered.
You'll also want to go over the specifics of your policy to understand how much coverage you actually have in place.
For instance, do you know your liability limits? Liability coverage, which is part of a typical homeowners policy, helps protect you if someone is hurt on your property or if you cause damage to someone else's property. But the protection typically only goes up to the limits stated on your policy.
You can talk with your agent about boosting those limits (most policies start with a $100,000 minimum, says the Insurance Information Institute). Or, you might feel more comfortable with a personal umbrella policy, a separate policy that kicks in once the liability limits on your underlying homeowners insurance have been exhausted.
Of course, insurance shouldn't be your only "gut check" when installing a backyard rink. You'll want to reach out to local officials to see whether any ordinances apply. Some towns have restrictions on where you can place the rink, how long it can be up, and even how it's constructed and maintained.