There’s nothing better than jumping into a cool, sparkling-clean pool on a hot summer day -- especially when the pool is in your own backyard. For many people, especially in areas with warmer climates, a backyard pool is as much a part of the home as a family room or patio. And while adding a pool will likely make your homeowners insurance go up, how much depends on several variables.
There’s no such thing as pool insurance. Instead, your swimming pool is covered by your homeowners policy as a detached structure, much like a garage, gazebo or shed. Typically, 10 percent of your homeowners coverage is available to cover detached structures. So if your home is covered for $250,000, your pool would be covered for $25,000.
The liability portion of your homeowners policy would also provide some coverage. If someone slips on the pool deck and has to go to the emergency room for X-rays, this would be covered under liability.
Even though your pool is automatically covered by your existing homeowners policy, it makes sense to increase the amount of coverage. If a guest is seriously injured in your pool, with only the coverage from your homeowners insurance a court case and medical bills could wipe you out. That’s where umbrella insurance comes in. This is an extra insurance policy that provides a much higher level of liability insurance. Umbrella insurance is designed to cover your liability for lawsuits and medical bills in the event of an accident where someone gets hurt. An umbrella liability policy can be an affordable way to add $1 million -- or more -- in coverage on top of your existing home liability protection. The average umbrella insurance policy costs approximately $150 to $300 more per year.
A Fence Is Key
In order to reduce liability, insurance companies require a fence around any in-ground pool. In terms of height, material and size, fence requirements typically vary by insurance company. Current codes require that a pool fence must be at least 48 inches tall, although some insurance companies require a 6-foot tall fence -- unless rules of a homeowners’ association prohibits it. Gates must be self-closing and self-latching. And the gate must open out and away from the pool area. No fence, no coverage.
Sorry: No Slide or Diving Board
If your pool has a slide, a diving board or both, many insurance companies won’t provide you with homeowners insurance. Other insurance companies will provide insurance, but will require that you sign an exclusion eliminating coverage for bodily injury relating to the slide or diving board. The reason? The liability is too great.
- New York Times: Umbrella Coverage for Preventing Your Ruin
- Guild Landis.com: Homeowner Special Form Property and Contents
- Hurricane Fence Company: What Are the Insurance Requirements for a Pool Fence?
- House Logic.com: The Cost of Umbrella Insurance for Homeowners
- Texans Insurance and Financial Group: Swimming Pools and Your Home Insurance
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Todd Duvall has been a writer since 1983. He has written for various local, regional and national clients, winning numerous awards. Duvall received a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Washington State University's Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.