By Jane Penan Spellman
Allstate Exclusive Agent
Approximately one-third of children who drown each year lose their life in a residential swimming pool while in the care of one or both parents. It’s jolting facts like these that have led many cities to enact pool safety ordinances and many property insurance companies to require homeowners with pools to install basic safeguards to meet eligibility guidelines.
Before buying a pool, whether it’s in-ground or above-ground, it’s important to check out all the facts: what are your liabilities, what kind of safeguards does your municipality require, how will it affect your homeowners insurance, and how much will these safeguards and additional insurance coverage cost?
Taking care of these issues may sound like a drag, but doing so will save money and heartache down the road.
First, it’s important to know that a pool is considered an “attractive nuisance.” In other words, swimming pools are thought to be too tempting to resist, especially to children. Your kids may sneak out the patio door when you’re not looking, or neighborhood kids may trespass to get to the pool when you’re out of town.
These are the types of scenarios that the safety requirements of towns and insurance companies typically address. Other factors like diving boards, visibility from the street and whether the pool is in-ground may affect the insurability of the swimming pool.
Most cities require all residential swimming pools to have a barrier around them . An example of an acceptable barrier would be a perimeter fence that is at least 6 feet tall. Most residential pools are required to have a gate with a latch at a certain height, and some must have pool alarms systems.
Your insurance agent can provide you with the details regarding the insurance implications of having a pool. Once you learn what safety precautions your insurance company requires, the conversation may turn to your liability coverage in the event that someone is hurt in your pool and files a claim against you.
While most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 of liability protection, you may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000. In addition, you may consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which typically costs about $200-$400 annually for $1 million in liability protection above what you already have on your home.
Beyond the liability issues, there are some common sense safety measures that every responsible pool owner should follow to keep children and adults out of harm’s way.
• Create layers of protection. Set up as many barriers as possible to make it difficult for a child to get to the pool such as door alarms, fencing, safety covers and locks.
• Make sure everyone in the household knows how to swim, has a basic knowledge of pool safety and knows the pool rules. CPR training is also encouraged.
• Never leave toys or floats in the pool when it’s not in use.
• Keep life-saving gear such as a first aid kit, reaching poles and buoys readily available and in proper working condition
• Children should always be supervised while in the pool.
• Keep children away from filters and devices with suction force that may cause injury or drowning.