You may not have enough insurance for your backyard pool

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We are immersed in the scorching summer days, and home swimming pools are a hot commodity.

Swimming pools are great fun, but they can also be dangerous. In the United States, an average of 10 people drown every day, and drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in children between the ages of one and four. Almost a quarter of child drownings occur at a family reunion near a swimming pool.

If you have a swimming pool – even a small above ground pool – you should be aware of the risks. If someone is injured or dies in their water, it is a tragedy. You could also be responsible for six figures (or more) of liability.

“You want to prevent drowning first, whether you are responsible or not,” says Andrew Ryan, lawyer and founder of the Ryan Law Group in Los Angeles. “Make safety the first priority. ”

At the same time, he adds, pool owners should discuss with their insurance agents what coverage they need for pool use liability. “You should always choose to have insurance for injuries related to swimming pool accidents,” says Ryan.

Understand your liability risk

Your liability in the event of an accident will depend on the situation, including perceived negligence; laws on what constitutes negligence vary from state to state. For example, if you offer to watch children swim in your pool and one of the children drowns, the child’s parents could be sued for negligence.

Ryan recalls a case where a child drowned at a party where the victim’s parents were present. A court found that the owner of the pool was not responsible. “But if you throw a birthday party for a group of nine-year-olds, you could be held responsible,” he says.

Your potential liability doesn’t end when you’re away from home. If a curious neighborhood kid ends up in your pool and is injured or killed, you could be deemed negligent. The chances of you being declared legally responsible increase if you knew neighborhood kids were visiting your pool and not doing anything about it, or if your pool didn’t have a fence or locked gate to keep children out.

Some pool owners hire a swim teacher to teach local kids, including their own, or rent their pools as part of a house rental through sites like Airbnb.com, or solo through sites like Swimply. com. An insurer might view these activities as commercial activities, which would require separate additional coverage.

Buy additional liability coverage

A standard home insurance policy probably does not provide sufficient liability coverage for a pool owner. A home insurance policy can include $ 100,000 of liability coverage and $ 1,000 of medical coverage for someone injured on your property, even though you are not technically responsible for the injury. You’ll need more, says Jay Schleicher, owner of BlueJay Insurance Agency in Minneapolis.

For a pool owner, Schleicher suggests adding an umbrella liability insurance policy in addition to your home and auto insurance policies, which would protect the insured in the event of a pool accident, car or even fall on the property. “The average cost is around $ 200 per year,” he says, adding that the exact figure depends on the number of homes and vehicles you own, plus a small amount related to pool ownership. “You need at least sufficient coverage to manage your overall asset base. In theory, a successful lawsuit could also foreclose future wages, but cases usually settle before it comes to that, Schleicher says.

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Putting safety first

Insurance is just one of the protections for pool owners. Taking safety precautions is also an important part of pool ownership, and one that insurance companies and local ordinances may require. State Farm customers, for example, must have fencing around swimming pools. Locking doors that close automatically, security covers, alarms, and monitored video surveillance can all help keep uninvited people out of the pool.

Keep ring buoys, poles, and a first aid kit near your pool. Know how to close filters and other pool components; post this information by the pool. Learn basic water safety and rescue skills, including CPR. Limit alcohol consumption when the pool is in use.

Perhaps more importantly, give your kids (and anyone else who needs to learn) swimming lessons. Knowing how to swim is a life skill, and especially vital for anyone with access to a private pool.

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