As summer winds down, your family might be spending more time playing outdoors—and maybe you have a jungle gym, pool, or even a trampoline so they can have a blast. While these things are great fun for your family and invited guests, how do they affect your homeowners insurance? What if a child comes onto your property without your permission, say maybe when you’re on vacation, and gets hurt while playing in your yard? Are you responsible for that child’s injuries?
You certainly could be.
The attractive nuisance
Items like pools, swing sets, zip lines, trampolines, hot tubs, skateboard ramps, and so on, are not just fun items for your family to enjoy. They’re also what is known as attractive nuisances. An attractive nuisance is something on your property that is “attractive,” especially to children, but is also potentially dangerous. Even things like heavy equipment (perhaps used for construction or remodeling), holes, and non-working cars can be considered attractive nuisances!
And because of what’s known legally as the attractive nuisance doctrine, homeowners can be held responsible if a child* is injured on their property due to an attractive nuisance. As a homeowner, you are required to safeguard children from an attractive nuisance if at all possible, even children who have not been invited onto your property.
How homeowners insurance is affected
Some attractive nuisances, like pools, may make your home insurance premiums more expensive. Many insurance companies charge higher premiums if you have a pool on your property, due to the higher risk of accident. They will also only cover liability for a pool if you meet state and county requirements regarding fencing or screening in your pool. Pools are not only the cause of drownings, but slippery pool decking can also cause falls. Other backyard equipment, such as trampolines, may even be excluded by some insurance companies, as are diving boards and pool slides. It’s important to disclose the presence of these things on your property to your homeowners insurance agent so he or she can place you with an insurance company that will insure you. Future claims could be denied if your insurance company is not aware of the presence of attractive nuisances such as the ones listed above. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent if you have any questions about what might or might not be covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
Another consideration: If you have a pool or other backyard play equipment, make sure you have enough liability coverage on your homeowners insurance policy to cover the cost of injuries a visitor (invited or uninvited) could incur on your property. If the injury expenses are more than your policy’s limits, you will be responsible for the rest of the cost. Many standard homeowners policies come with a $100,000 limit, but it costs very little to raise that to $300,000. You might also consider buying an umbrella policy, which will kick in once you reach the limit of your homeowners insurance liability coverage.
Aside from buying adequate insurance coverage, if your property contains an attractive nuisance, you also should take precautions that include:
- Creating physical barriers to the attractive nuisance: a fence with a locked gate around your yard, a fence and alarm for your pool, and so on.
- Making sure guests, especially children, understand and follow safety guidelines.
- Supervising children while they’re playing at your home.
- Installing proper lighting.
- Keeping walkways clear of items that might cause a trip and fall.
Insurance agents you can trust
At Lakewood Financial, we understand the importance of finding the right homeowners insurance policy. We are an independent insurance agency partnered with many great homeowners insurance companies, and we’d love to help you find the most cost-effective coverage for your individual situation. Please give us a call at 941-747-4600, or request a quote online.
*Usually, in Florida, an adult has no right to recover damages incurred while trespassing.