Some people dream their whole lives of owning a home with a swimming pool. It’s part of achieving success and also makes a great place for the kids to play and for Mom and Dad to exercise. But there is a downside to pool ownership as well. Each year hundreds of people die in swimming pool related accidents and most of these are small children ages 1-4. Thousands more are hospitalized due to injuries received while swimming. So before you prime the pool filter, make sure you have adequate safety measures installed to prevent accidental injury or death and also to protect yourself from liability. In addition, you will need to ensure that your homeowners insurance policy provides adequate coverage in case of damage to your pool.
Pools Are Considered Separate Structures From Your Home
Homeowners insurance policies generally cover pools as additional structures on your property, similar to a detached garage or gazebo. As such, they will cover damages to your pool that are specifically listed in your policy, such as damage by hail, lightening or vandalism. Since damage caused by freezing and thawing is often not covered by insurance, take steps to prepare your pool adequately for winter weather. Make sure you check your policy regarding what percentage of overall coverage can be applied toward additional structures. If you have several detached structures on your property, the addition of a pool may take you over your policy limits, in which case you should purchase additional coverage.
Liablity Coverage is a Key Requirement for Pool Owners
Your insurance policy should also cover liability to others who are using your pool. Even if they are in the pool without your knowledge or permission, you could still be sued in the case of drowning or injury. Pool ownership brings with it the responsibility of ensuring adequate liability coverage and you will most likely need to increase your current level of coverage when you install a pool. You can either purchase additional coverage through your insurance provider, or you can apply for a separate umbrella liability policy which will pay up to a specified amount in the event of death or injury. Always check local building codes when installing a pool, since failure to adhere to code can make your pool uninsurable.
Safety Precautions Are as Important as Insurance Coverage
Safety precautions should be taken in order to minimize risk around the swimming pool. The most important thing you can do to ensure safety is to install a fence. Studies show that drowning deaths are reduced by as much as 60% to 90% when an appropriate fence is in place. The fence should entirely enclose the pool and should be tall enough so that it is not easily climbed by children. This will decrease instances of the pool being used without your knowledge or permission.
Even with your permission, small children should never be in the pool unsupervised. An adult who is a good swimmer should always be present to take rescue action if necessary. Adults who are good swimmers should still never swim alone, since dangerous circumstances are not always predictable. Keep areas around the pool free from obstacles and debris such as bottles, glasses, or swimming gear in order to prevent accidental falls. All pool users should know how to swim and those still in the learning process should be accompanied by a strong swimmer. Pools should always be covered during winter or when not in use. To prevent electric shock, keep electronic devices well away from the pool and any wet surfaces and never allow anyone to use the pool during a storm.
Everyone agrees that safety is of primary importance in and around the swimming pool, but it’s easy to get so caught up in the fun and games that simple safety precautions are overlooked. Remember that it takes less than five minutes for a child to drown and that brain damage can occur after only two minutes of submersion. While the requirements of your homeowners insurance policy may seem burdensome, it’s worth taking any and all required precautions—and even some additional ones—in order to ensure the safety of a child. With safety features in place, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the summer with friends and family in and around your new pool.