Swimming Pool Injuries - Am I Covered?
Do you own a swimming pool? If you do, you know how lucky you are on hot and humid days when nothing beats splashing around in cool, cool water. Having a swimming pool is not only a luxury that adds to your home’s cash value, but it’s also great for entertaining the kids, the kids’ friends and even your own friends. Who doesn’t love a good pool party?
With all the benefits that come with owning a swimming pool there are also risks, which is why swimming pools are often called “an attractive nuisance.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the swimming pool injury statistics are this: Every day, approximately 10 people die from unintentional drowning. About ⅕ of these drowning victims are children aged 14 or younger. Survivors often suffer brain damage resulting in long-term disabilities like memory problems, learning disabilities, internal organ damage and going into a permanent vegetative state.
Should you hire a contractor to get rid of your pool that you paid 20K to build just so you can rest easy? Of course not, but it’s important not to be negligent when anyone uses your pool, with or without your permission because you will be liable for them. This includes your own children, especially. Many accidents happen in residential swimming pools because there is often no supervision. Remember that the sooner you react to an emergency the lower the chances of a catastrophe happening in your pool.
Drowning is not the only hazard you should be wary of if you own a swimming pool. Common swimming pool accidents include: slip and fall injuries, diving board injuries, broken bones, lacerations, electrocution and infections.
Even though the liability portion of your homeowners insurance covers pool accidents if a guest is injured (or dies), you can still be legally held accountable if you were not providing a safe swimming environment when you allowed guests to use your swimming pool.
If you, the swimming pool owner, are found to have been negligent and your negligence caused an injury, you may be liable for damages. Negligence could involve the following:
- Improperly marking or not marking the shallow vs deep end
- Defective diving board
- No pool lighting
- Absent supervision
- Lack of pool ladder(s)
Most swimming pool accidents are at least partially covered if you have a homeowners insurance policy. For free home insurance quotes, make sure to get connected with a knowledgeable insurance agent using SmartFinancial.com.
What Are the Causes of Pool Accidents?
- Diving board accident
- Inadequate fencing
- Lack of supervision
- No swimming pool over
- Faulty valve, drain or other component of a swimming pool.
- Water that is too shallow
- Trip and fall in slippery area outside of the pool
How to Prevent Pool Accidents
- Watch children and never leave them unattended. It only takes a few moments to begin drowning.
- Keep children away from drains, pipes and other openings.
- If a child is missing, check the pool
- Learn to swim
- Make sure your children learn how to swim.
- Learn CPR for children and adults.
- Install an alarm on the door leading to the pool so you always know when people are going there.
- Install a 4-foot fence around the swimming pool or spa
- Make sure your pool have compliant drain covers.
- Make sure you pool and spa covers are in good condition.
- Have life-saving equipment like life rings or reaching poles handy.
- Light the pool area for visibility.
- Keep a first aid kit in the pool area.
What Homeowners Insurance Covers and What it Doesn’t
Your regular maintenance on a pool would never be covered by home insurance. However, if your swimming pool gets damaged by a covered peril, you will be covered. A falling object is a covered peril so if heavy winds knock a nearby tree into your pool, your home insurance will cover the costs of the damage. However, depreciation is always taken into consideration in the payout. If you installed the pool ten years ago, you will probably not get back what you originally paid for it. You will only get what the pool would be worth after depreciation.
Different pools are eligible for different coverages too. For instance, an above-ground pool will usually be covered by personal property coverage (which also covers personal belongings) and an in-ground pool is usually covered by other structures coverage, which covers structures like sheds and other structures that are detached from the house (dwelling).
Do I Need to Raise My Homeowners Insurance Limits?
It’s important for you to speak with your agent about whether your insurer includes the in-ground pool in the replacement cost value of the home insurance policy. If so, you will be paying more each month because the value of your policy will have new limits, which are considerably higher. If your insurer considers the pool an external structure you need to list it as an extraneous structure. You’ll also pay more for pool insurance coverage but maybe less than if the value of the pool were tacked on to the main policy. Usually, homeowners insurance covers up to 10% to replace external structures. You can also buy additional coverage for the pool if 10% feels too low (and often is for replacing a swimming pool).
Take into consideration that if you have lots of valuable personal belongings besides the pool, your coverage limits may not be high enough to cover everything that falls under personal property coverage, especially if you have pricey jewelry that isn’t insured separately on a rider. The more your homeowners insurance covers for the pool and related liabilities, the less you have to worry about paying for a swimming pool injury lawsuit out-of-pocket. This is why limits matter.
If you want to save some money on home insurance, adding a safety fence around your pool will help lower your home insurance rate.
Note that there are perils that are not covered in a home insurance policy at all:
- Earthquakes (this is a policy onto itself and must be bought separately)
- Water damage (often caused by cracks due to freezing
- Wear and tear
Do not misunderstand how insurance works; It’s not intended to pay for maintenance or damage caused by neglect. It’s only meant to rebuild the home and other structures after damage caused by a peril explicitly named in your insurance policy. It is easy for claims adjusters to assess what kind of condition the pool was in before a claim was filed by the owner.
Why a Personal Umbrella Policy May Be a Good Idea
An umbrella policy provides extra liability limits to your home insurance policy. When you meet the limits of your homeowners insurance, a personal umbrella policy begins to take up your medical and other liability expenses. Until there’s such a thing as pool insurance, raising liability limits and adding an umbrella policy should suffice.
What Happens if Someone Dies in My Swimming Pool?
The liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy would cover medical bills and even death up to limits. Most standard policies carry $100,000 in liability protection but for someone who owns a swimming pool this is considered very low. A lawsuit for the death of guest can easily exceed the $100,000 limit. You can buy higher liability limits or consider an umbrella policy to cover what your home insurance does not.
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Mortgage payments and possibly a homeowners warranty aren’t the only costs of owning a home. Nope, it doesn’t end with taxes and homeowners insurance either. Most people who set out to buy their first home are in for a surprise when the closing date approaches and they learn that they owe all sorts of money for the house they just bought.
Homeowners insurance was not designed to cover small or even big fixes, but to repair damage that is covered under the stipulations of your policy. In fact, you may end up paying more in monthly premiums if you file a claim that gets rejected. For this reason, we advise you to fully review your case and your policy to see if you’re covered before filing a claim.
Homeowners insurance is an important protection to have even when it’s not required for a primary home, a vacation home or condo.