Published: March 2015
Backyard swimming pools are a great place to spend time with friends and family during the hot summer months. And nothing helps beat the heat like taking a swim in your own backyard. But pool ownership also comes with responsibility. If the unexpected strikes, do you have the necessary insurance in place? Whether it's damage to the physical structure of the pool or your own liability, you'll likely want to have certain safeguards in place. You may want to start by considering the following questions.
If you have a pool or you're planning to install one, it's a good idea to let your insurer know, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says. Pools are typically covered by homeowners insurance policies, but you'll probably want to review your coverage to make sure you have the right amount of protection in place.
Property coverage. The property component of your homeowners policy likely extends to your backyard swimming pool, so if a tree falls on your pool, your coverage may help pay to remove the tree and cover repairs to your pool, up to the limits included in your policy. Your agent can help you determine whether you should consider increasing your policy's property coverage limits based on the value of your pool and any accessories, such as a deck or water slide.
Keep in mind that most homeowners policies exclude coverage for damages caused if water freezes in your pool, so you'll want to be sure you drain it at the end of each season.
Liability coverage. You'll also want to take your liability coverage into consideration. Thousands of people go to the emergency room each year with pool-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If someone suffers an injury at your pool, you could potentially incur medical or legal expenses that stem from the incident. Liability protection is a standard part of a typical homeowners policy, but because a pool can increase your liability risk, says the III, you may want to consider increasing your coverage.
A homeowners policy typically provides $100,000 in base liability coverage. The III recommends increasing those limits to $300,000 or $500,000 if you have a backyard pool.
To add an extra layer of protection, the III says pool owners should consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy (PUP). A PUP provides liability coverage above the limits of your homeowners policy — generally up to $1 million. PUP protection begins when you've exhausted the required underlying insurance amount of your homeowners policy. Your agent can help you determine whether you have appropriate protection in place on your underlying policy to help prevent a gap in your coverage.
By taking a few safety precautions, you can help reduce the risk of accidents at your pool. The CPSC recommends installing a fence at least 4 feet tall around the pool along with gates that are both self-closing and self-latching. Some states or municipalities have laws in regard to pool fences, so it's a good idea to find out what might be required in your area.
Children should be supervised around the pool as well as taught water safety skills, CPSC's Pool Safely program says. In addition, the program says parents should learn how to swim and make sure their children also know how to swim.
By being proactive with both safety measures and insurance protection, you can gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're prepared — and spend pool time enjoying your backyard swims.