We’re considering building a pool in the backyard, but what worries me are the running costs and the extra insurance. So would a pool be covered by our homeowner’s policy?
Most homeowner’s insurance policies do cover swimming pools, which are considered to be ‘other structures’ by your insurance company. Most policies provide up to 10% protection of the total policy limit, meaning if your home is worth $400,000 you may receive up to $40,000 for damage to your pool.
Let’s dive down (another pun intended!) into the subject of insuring swimming pools in greater detail, and consider what you should look out for in the small print to ensure you’re covered for every eventuality…
Are Swimming Pools Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?
Most homeowner’s insurance policies have coverage for “other structures” on your property. A detached garage, shed, guest house, fence or detached patio are all examples of other structures.
Also known as outbuildings, most insurance companies will help pay for the repair or replacement of these structures using the guidelines of the Coverage B section of the policy.
In most cases, insurance companies consider swimming pools as other structures, so your pool is covered under your standard home insurance. Most policies provide up to 10 percent protection of the total policy limit.
For example, if the policy limit for your home is $400,000, you may receive up to $40,000 in reimbursement for damage to your pool. There is no additional cost for other structures coverage in a standard home insurance policy.
How Much Does Your Homeowner’s Insurance Go Up With a Pool?
Several factors determine how much your homeowner’s insurance goes up with a pool. The type of pool you have, where your home is located, and where the pool is at on your property affects how much your insurance costs.
A great example is a homeowner who lives close to a body of water, such as an ocean or lake. Homeowners with pools who live close to water generally don’t see an increase in their premiums. The risk assumption is a drowning accident is more likely to occur in a large body of water than in a swimming pool. Therefore, some insurance companies don’t raise premiums for homeowners who have a pool and live close to water.
On the other hand, pools with risky features like waterfalls, steep steps, dramatic drop-offs or deeper depths than what’s normally recommended can increase premium payments. Additionally, luxury pools with modern styles constructed from expensive materials can increase premiums for home insurance.
What Does Swimming Pool Insurance Cover?
Your insurance policy protects your home and other structures (including in-ground swimming pools) on your property from “perils” — which is an industry term for damage caused by events out of your control such as weather, fire, vandalism or theft.
For example, if a tree falls into your swimming pool after a weather event, or lightning strikes your pool and damages its components, your insurance will help pay for repairing or replacing the damage.
The amount of coverage you get for any property damage depends on the deductibles you choose and the policy limits. Since limits to your policy vary, it pays to carefully review plan limits to see if they’re adequate to cover any damage to your pool.
However, if a peril such as an earthquake, flood, mudslide, sinkhole or sewer backup causes damage, your pool isn’t covered under your standard home insurance policy.
Also, many policies don’t protect pools from damage caused by frozen pool water. If you live in a colder climate, you should drain your pool when temperatures start regularly dipping below freezing.
Do I Need Umbrella Liability Coverage With a Pool?
An umbrella insurance policy is extra coverage you can buy to protect yourself, your family and your home from perils not covered under a standard insurance policy. Some homeowners add umbrella policies if the value of their assets exceeds their homeowner’s insurance policy limits. And, some people buy umbrella liability insurance for structures, like a swimming pool, that pose additional risks compared to other structures on a property.
Although an umbrella liability policy isn’t required if you have a pool, some industry experts recommend it to protect yourself if something unexpected happens in or around your pool. Wet surfaces increase the likelihood of injuries occurring from running and jumping into pools — which also increases the risk of drowning incidents.
If you’re the type of person who hosts a lot of pool parties or frequently has friends or family over for a day of barbequing and swimming, you should consider adding an umbrella policy. If you’re the target of a substantial lawsuit from an injury occurring in your pool, your standard policy probably won’t cover the expenses if you’re found liable. Without the extra protection, you’ll have to pay the additional expenses out-of-pocket.
Will My Homeowner’s Insurance Require a Pool Fence?
Since many insurance companies look at pools as potentially harmful, most require you to have a fence around a swimming pool. The majority of insurance providers won’t help you pay for medical or legal expenses if someone drowns or gets injured and you don’t have a fence.
Whether your pool is in-ground or above-ground, you’ll need a fence as a condition of coverage. An inspector may visit your home after you apply for insurance to see if the facts you gave are accurate. If there is no fence around your swimming pool, the inspector may instruct you to install one within a certain amount of time.
Additionally, some cities and municipalities require fences around swimming pools. Sometimes they’ll require certain safety features like a specific lock or a fence be a certain height. If you don’t have a fence around your pool, you could be in violation of local laws and face fines or other penalties.
Will My Homeowner’s Policy Cover a Pool With a Slide or Diving Board?
Whether a homeowner’s insurance policy offers coverage for pools with diving boards or slides depends on the insurance company and the policy. Some companies won’t cover pools with diving boards and slides under a standard policy, and you may need to sign an exclusion or amendment stating you understand the terms of the policy.
In some cases, insurance companies will require you to remove a diving board or face cancellation of your policy. For many companies, water slides and diving boards don’t fall within their guidelines for risk assessment.
Since most insurance companies consider this pool equipment intrinsically dangerous, which often results in frequent personal injuries, the guidelines are becoming more common throughout the industry.
Am I Liable if Somebody Is Injured Using My Pool Without Permission?
Unfortunately, if a person is trespassing and using your pool without permission, you could still be held liable for any injuries this person may suffer.
To protect yourself from something that appears so frivolous, you should follow the laws and guidelines for the upkeep and security of your pool, according to legal experts. Here are a few tips to make your pool safe and secure:
- Install non-slip flooring around your pool
- Use a pool cover when not in use
- Set a pool alarm to alert you when someone enters the water
- Keep pool water clean
- Remove ladders from above-ground pools when not in use
Do I Need to Keep My Pool Properly Maintained as a Condition of My Home Insurance?
Some insurance companies may require you to keep your pool maintained as a condition of the other structure’s coverage in your standard home insurance policy. It’s ultimately up to you to keep your pool maintained, but your pool isn’t covered from wear and tear due to a lack of maintenance.
Additionally, if an injury occurs to someone using your pool, you could be held liable if the accident happened because your swimming pool wasn’t properly maintained.
You must keep your pool in a reasonably safe condition. If you fail to properly store pool equipment or fail to use the recommended chemical balance to treat your water, it may be considered by courts as a lack of control by you over the conditions that resulted in harm.
Are Pool Houses Covered By Homeowner’s Insurance?
A pool house is typically covered under your standard home insurance policy. Since most pool houses are detached from the main house, they’ll fall under the other structures portion of your policy.
As a reminder, other structure coverage typically protects up to 10 percent of the main structure policy limit. Also, insurance companies only help pay to repair or replace damage from covered perils like fire, weather or theft — which also applies to pool houses.
So that’s great news then – most insurers class swimming pools and pool houses as ‘other structures’, meaning they are covered for up to 10% of your home’s total insured value.
However, you may want to consider extra umbrella insurance to limit your liability for other risks around the pool – especially to cover you for accidents with guests.
In addition, your insurance policy will most likely also stipulate that your pool must have a fence around it and be kept well maintained – so it definitely pays to keep your pool area clean and well looked after. 🙂