Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Your Swimming Pool?
A swimming pool is a great addition if you’re thinking about turning your backyard into an oasis. You can cool off on a hot summer’s day in your own private retreat.
But there are a few things to know before installing a swimming pool.
Whether you install an in-ground or an above-ground pool, you need to notify your homeowners insurance company.
Some people overlook this minor detail. And others assume that their policy will cover their swimming pool, but this isn’t the case. Swimming pools are a liability.
So, it’s important to understand your coverage.
Will Home Insurance Cover a Swimming Pool?
In most cases, your homeowners insurance will likely cover damage to your swimming pool due to covered perils.
Homeowners insurance is a policy that protects your home from losses and damages.
The policy protects against certain types of perils. These include windstorms, hailstorms, fire, vandalism, and theft.
Most mortgage lenders require a policy for as long as you have the loan. But even though homeowners insurance isn’t required by law once you’ve paid off your home, you should always maintain a policy. Losses or damages from a covered peril can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Home insurance policies include dwelling coverage, which completely rebuilds your home after a major disaster.
It also protects other structures on your property like a detached garage or shed. And in most cases, your insurance provider will list a swimming pool as an “other structure” on your policy.
Yet, the coverage varies depending on the type of pool.
Dwelling coverage isn’t the only part of your insurance policy that protects swimming pools. Pools are also protected under personal property protection and liability protection.
What Type of Pools Fall Under “Other Structures?”
When you notify your home insurance provider to list a swimming pool on your policy, you’ll provide details about the type of pool.
This is important because the type of pool determines whether they’ll list it as an other structure or personal property.
Home insurance policies only cover two types of pools:
- permanent above-ground pools
- permanent in-ground pools
(A "permanent pool" is a non-inflatable pool.)
Above-ground vs. in-ground pools
Insurance providers typically list an in-ground pool as an other structure on the property. But when it comes to above-ground pools, the classification varies from provider-to-provider.
Some insurers consider a permanent above-ground pool as an "other structure," too. But others list these pools as personal property.
You’ll need to speak with your insurance provider to see how they classify above-ground pools. This is need-to-know information because the coverage is different for other structures and personal property.
If you have a swimming pool that’s listed under other structures in your policy, your coverage limit for the pool is about 10 percent of your dwelling coverage.
So if you have $300,000 in dwelling coverage, your insurance provider will only cover your pool up to $30,000. This can cover the cost to repair your pool after a covered peril. These might include a tree falling on your pool, storm damage, or vandalism.
Then again, your insurer might list your above-ground pool as personal property on your policy. In this case, your personal property coverage is 50 percent to 70 percent of your dwelling coverage.
This doesn’t mean that your insurance provider will pay this much to cover the damage to a pool.
Some policies also have claim limits for swimming pools. In which case, you’ll have to buy extra coverage to replace an expensive pool.
Extra coverage increases your homeowners insurance premium, but it’s often affordable.
Liability Protection for Accidents & Injuries
A swimming pool in your backyard increases the risk of accident or injury.
This, in turn, increases your personal liability.
Your homeowners insurance policy already provides basic personal liability protection. You’re protected if someone is injured on your property.
In these scenarios, homeowners are often liable for the injured party‘s medical bills.
Policies vary, but many include a standard liability amount of $100,000. For many people, this is enough.
This applies whether injury is due to negligence or an accident.
Consider increased liability protection
What’s worse, an injured party might sue and win a court-ordered award.
Between an injured party‘s medical bills and a court-ordered award, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
An injured person could sue for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In which case, $100,000 of base liability protection might not be enough.
For added protection, you can increase your personal liability protection to $300,000 or $500,000 (your premiums will be higher).
Do You Need an Umbrella Policy?
Depending on your amount of assets, you might also consider buying an umbrella policy.
These policies provide extra liability protection.
With an umbrella policy, you can increase your liability protection to $1 million or more. These policies are beneficial in the event of a major pool accident.
The umbrella policy kicks in once you’ve exhausted funds from your standard homeowners insurance policy.
Do you live in an area prone to hurricanes?
If so, check with your home insurance provider to see if your policy covers these events.
Many policies cover windstorms like hurricanes and tornadoes. But some providers have excluded this coverage from standard policies.
If so, you must buy extra windstorm protection. This not only protects your home, but also a swimming pool on the property.
If your standard policy does include windstorm protection, in most cases it will have its own deductible.
Deductibles are a flat rate that you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance provider pays a claim. This flat rate can range from $500 to $2,500.
Windstorm deductibles are often a percent of the home’s insured value. So if you have an insured value of $300,000 and a 2 percent windstorm deductible, you would pay $6,000 out-of-pocket.
Your standard policy isn’t likely to cover earthquake damage either, but you can add an earthquake rider or endorsement to your existing policy.
Standard policies don’t provide flood coverage, either. You would have to buy separate flood insurance, too.
But unfortunately, a separate flood insurance policy doesn’t cover pools. It excludes property outside the home.
Floods can cause extensive damage to swimming pools, though. So if you live in a flood zone, ask your insurance provider about other pool endorsements to protect your investment.
What Else to Know About Insurance and Swimming Pools?
But although a home insurance policy can cover a swimming pool, here’s what you need to know to ensure proper coverage.
Notify your insurance provider
Swimming pool coverage isn’t included in your home insurance policy.
Your insurer must list your swimming pool as either an other structure or personal property.
If you install a swimming pool, don’t forget to notify your insurance provider to ensure proper coverage.
Take safety precautions
You can reduce your risk of liability by taking necessary safety precautions.
This includes installing a fence around your swimming pool.
Also, keep your pool gate locked when unattended.
Some insurance providers only insure swimming pools protected by a fence and lock.
Protect against negligence
Your insurance provider will not cover pool accidents as a result of negligence on your part.
Negligence includes failure to install a fence or lock on your fence.
Keep in mind:
You can be held liable when someone uses your pool without your permission.
It depends on the circumstances, though.
For example, you might be liable if you didn’t take safety precautions. But you’re not liable if someone hops your fence or breaks your lock to access your swimming pool.
A swimming pool will increase your home insurance premium. So shop around and compare prices.
The increase varies by company.
But if you increase your liability protection to $300,000 or $500,000, you can expect to pay an extra $50 to $100 a year. If you add an umbrella policy, you might pay an extra $350 a year.
Swimming pools can be a fun addition to your property.
They provide a place to exercise, relax, and cool off in the summer. But a swimming pool also increases your liability risk.
So it’s important to have adequate insurance.
You need enough insurance to not only protect the swimming pool in the event of damage. But also to protect your assets if you’re liable after an accident.