Attractive Nuisance and Homeowners Insurance Costs

A homeowner must keep children away from appealing but dangerous objects on their property, such as a pool, a trampoline or, say, an unlocked RV in the backyard. If any child gets harmed, the homeowner could be sued.

Under the "attractive nuisance" doctrine, a landowner may even be liable for injuries to children who trespass onto their property if there is a hazardous object or condition that attracts children who don't fully understand the dangers associated with it, notes the Legal Information Institute (LII).

Legally, an "attractive nuisance" is a potentially dangerous condition that may be appealing to a child under the age of 13.

However, a standard homeowners policy will protect the homeowner from such claims in most cases. The policyholder can also elect to purchase additional coverage and take necessary steps to minimize the dangers associated with the attractive nuisance.

What's Considered an Attractive Nuisance? 

On March 29, 1869, a group of children were playing on the turntable on the railroad when a six-year-old Harry Stout got his foot stuck and would later have his leg amputated. This case, Stout vs. Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Co., eventually lead to what's known as the "attractive nuisance" doctrine:

  • The turntable was inviting to the children, who saw it as a merry-go-round. However, the curious children lacked the necessary discretion to comprehend the serious dangers of playing on the machinery.

  • Pacific Railroad knew or should have known that children were likely to trespass on its property.

  • Pacific Railroad realized or should have realized the danger of the turntable to children.

  •  The steps Pacific Railroad could have taken to guard, lock or otherwise secure the turntable were slight compared to the turntable's potential to harm children.

So in keeping with these four points, if a homeowner has, say, an in-ground pool in their backyard, that homeowner should take steps to secure the pool, knowing the neighborhood children's likelihood of trespassing and falling victim to harm. 

Common Attractive Nuisances in Homes

On one hand, the law does not consider wild animals, natural formations (hills, cliffs, ponds, lakes, trees) or choking hazards (acorns, sticks) to be attractive nuisances. On the other hand, a homeowner may well be sued under the "attractive nuisance" doctrine if a child gets injured while trespassing on the homeowner's property. To be safe, your best bet is to child-proof your property, especially for these attractive, well-known nuisances:

  • Pools

  • Trampolines

  • Staircases

  • Ladders

  • Lawn mowers, nail guns and other abandoned equipment

  • Wells

  • Tree houses

  • Tunnels

  • Swing sets, tire swings and other swings

  • Large animals

  • Abandoned vehicles

  • Fountains

  • Rooftops

  • Piles of lumber   

  • Scaffolding

Find Affordable Homeowners Insurance

How Do Attractive Nuisances Affect Homeowners Insurance Rates?

A standard homeowners insurance policy has four components, each of which protects the policyholder from a different area of risk:

It is the liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy that will protect your financial stability against claims that an attractive nuisance caused a child bodily harm or death. 

It is important to remember that not all home insurance carriers are alike. First, a home insurer may refuse to accept an insurance application solely due to an attractive nuisance. Second, a home insurer may deny a policyholder's liability claim if the attractive nuisance was not disclosed prior to the accident or if it was not properly safeguarded. Here's more:

An Attractive Nuisance Increases the Cost of Home Insurance

Having a pool on your home's property will raise your home insurance rate. Since a pool, a trampoline or another attractive nuisance increases a policyholder's risk profile, that increased risk will be reflected in a higher home insurance premium, which is the dollar amount a customer must pay for coverage over an agreed-upon time period. 

A Liability Endorsement Can Increase Liability Limits 

A standard homeowners policy has a $100,000 maximum of liability protection, but pool and trampoline owners may want to hike that maximum liability protection to $300,000 or even $500,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Of course, this additional coverage, called an "endorsement," will add to your home insurance cost.

An Umbrella Policy Can Increase Liability Protections

For even more liability coverage, some homeowners purchase an umbrella liability policy. Umbrella coverage can provide a $1 million maximum of liability protection for about $200 to $300 a year. This additional coverage will also raise the cost of your home insurance but not by much.

Policyholders can increase their level of coverage with a liability endorsement or an umbrella policy.

If you are considering changing your home insurance policy or carrier, you might review your current policy's declarations page, which summarizes the policy's coverage, exclusions and limits. It's a good place to start  when thinking about the coverage you need and don't need.

How To Protect Yourself and Others When You Have an Attractive Nuisance

Home insurers and courts of law do not accept, condone or tolerate a homeowner's negligence. Here are some ways you can protect children from an attractive nuisance:

  • Install fences and locked gates around the attractive nuisance.

  • Put up warning signs, such as "Beware of the dog."

  • Install lights to illuminate potential hazards and trespassing children.

  • Send a flier to neighborhood parents to make them aware of the attractive nuisance.

  • Verbally warn the neighborhood children of the potential hazard.

  • Keep pathways and stairs unobstructed.

Cheap Homeowners Insurance With an Attractive Nuisance

A pool, a trampoline or other attractive nuisance can raise the cost of your homeowners insurance. In fact, if you choose to purchase further coverage, such as a liability endorsement or an umbrella policy, your homeowners insurance will cost even more. For most policyholders, the extra money is a small price to pay for financial protection and peace of mind. 

SmartFinancial can help you to find a home insurance policy that fits your needs, budget and lifestyle. If you have an attractive nuisance, it's wise to shop around to find the cheapest rate in your area. SmartFinancial can find you the right policy for free. Enter your zip code below or call 855-214-2291 to begin.

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