8 Fascinating Facts Pool Owners Should Know About Pool Insurance

What is Swimming Pool Liability Insurance?

Swimming pool liability insurance is a specific type of personal liability insurance that protects you against paying out of pocket for the costs associated with a litigation should you be sued because your pool caused third-party bodily injury.

For example, if your children had a group of friends over to play in the pool and one of the visiting kids suffered a severe concussion when they slipped on the pool deck and hit their head, that child's parents could choose to sue you to recover the costs of medical treatment and other related expenses. With swimming pool liability insurance in place, your insurance carrier will provide you with the necessary funds to deal with costs such as legal mediation and advice, attorney fees for legal defense in court and settlement costs should you be found liable for the plaintiff's medical expenses.

Top 8 Facts Ontario Pool Owners Need to Know About Swimming Pool Liability Insurance

When the sun is high in the sky and the humidity is working overtime to heat the whole province, there's nothing better than heading out to your backyard for a cool, refreshing dip in the pool. From fitness and hydrotherapy to good old-fashioned fun with your friends and family, it's no wonder many Ontario homeowners are plunging into pool ownership.

But while having your own pool might be part of the Canadian dream, it comes with its own risk exposures that need to be addressed with the right swimming pool insurance. Homeowners who move into a house with a pool or have a pool built on their property aren't always aware that it needs to be factored into the personal liability coverage on their homeowners' insurance policy. The team of experienced brokers at Morison Insurance gives you the information you need to know about swimming pool liability insurance so you can enjoy your pool all summer long without worry.

1. You May Require Additional Coverage on Your Home Insurance Policy To Provide Proper Coverage for Your Pool

Personal liability coverage is included on a standard homeowners policy, including coverage for the entire property, including a swimming pool. Some liability coverage is also available on your home insurance policy that would apply to pool-related third-party bodily injury situations—but the coverage limits are likely not high enough to address the risk exposure of having a pool, and specific requirements may have to be met for you to have the complete swimming pool liability insurance you need to avoid paying out of pocket if you are litigated against for a third-party injury that occurs in or around your pool.

It's critically important that you inform your insurance broker of a pool on your property so they can ensure you have the proper swimming pool liability insurance coverage limits to address the additional risk exposure properly. So they can inform you about your insurance carrier's particular requirements for how the pool should be protected and maintained.

While this part isn't about swimming pool liability insurance, your insurance broker also needs to know about your pool so they can include its value in the rebuild cost of your house, and you can get property damage insurance compensation for it should it be damaged or destroyed by an insured peril such as a natural disaster. If you modify the pool later, such as changing it to a saltwater pool or installing a slide, you must notify your broker.

2. Having a Swimming Pool Will Likely Increase Insurance Premiums

Because it's generally necessary to increase liability coverage limits for a household with a pool, you can expect swimming pool insurance coverage to increase your overall premiums for homeowners insurance. How much precisely will, of course, vary based on factors such as your insurance company, the location of your property, the size and features of the pool and so on, but it's not all that costly—it generally falls in the range of $50 to $100 more per year, which is well worth it when you consider the potential for the astronomically high costs that can come along with being sued and found liable for settlement expenses.

3. Your Swimming Pool Can Pose A Significant Risk Of Injury, Especially For Children

If you've begun looking into swimming pool liability insurance, you've probably already come across this term more than once—but you may not understand how it applies to your pool, which may be attractive but is hardly a nuisance in your eyes. The term attractive nuisance applies to items or structures on your property that pose a risk of injury. They are likely to attract children or even teenagers who don't fully understand the risks involved and therefore are more likely to injure themselves while using them. More specifically, it refers to something that would entice children to enter your property without your knowledge or permission and engage in risky behaviour.

A swimming pool is a classic example of an attractive nuisance, and of course, we've all heard tales of sneaking into someone's backyard to use their pool when they're not around. It can also apply to other fun but potentially dangerous things, such as a trampoline, jungle gym or even a treehouse. People sometimes misunderstand attractive nuisances because they believe they can't be liable for any harm that befalls trespassers who are on their property without their consent. This is not the case regarding an attractive nuisance like a swimming pool. A pool is particularly tempting to children who don't have the ability to understand the consequences of their actions fully, and a homeowner can be held liable for a third-party bodily injury even if the injured party did not have permission to be on their property.

4. Swimming Pool Insurance Providers Don’t Require a Pool Fence, But By-Law Might

Insurance companies typically don't directly impose requirements like a pool fence to provide swimming pool liability insurance. Still, they require you to comply with the municipal by-laws in your area, and in Ontario, those by-laws almost always require a pool fence.

Each municipality has its own rules specifying the exact requirements for a pool fence, which can vary from city to city. For example, in Kitchener, a pool fence must be a minimum of five feet tall, while in Mississauga, it only has to be four feet tall at a minimum but must be non-climbable. Rules can also vary as to how deep a pool has to be to require a fence, whether it applies to both above-ground and in-ground pools or only one of them, and so on. It's also important to understand that your backyard fence is inadequate protection. Many people assume that as long as their backyard is totally fenced in, it meets the requirements for a pool fence, but that's not true. A pool fence must be around the pool only and separate the house from the pool so there's no direct access.

It's vital to understand all the requirements of your municipal by-laws and ensure your property complies with them. Remember that if you have a homeowners association (HOA), your HOA board likely has their own set of regulations governing pools that you should be aware of.

5. Swimming Pool Liability Insurance Does Not Cover You If a Household Member is Injured in the Pool

Liability coverage, such as swimming pool liability insurance, specifically offers you financial assistance in dealing with litigation costs if you are sued for allegedly causing third-party bodily injury. Suppose you or a household member are injured while using your pool. In that case, it is a first-party injury, and your swimming pool liability insurance coverage does not apply, so you won't be able to receive compensation from your insurance carrier.

6. Both Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools Need Swimming Pool Liability Insurance

An above-ground pool is generally considered a belonging or possession rather than a permanent structure because it's not attached to the ground or house and can be packed up and moved to a new location if necessary. An in-ground pool, which is constructed by digging a hole in the ground and paving it with concrete, is a permanent structure that is part of the property, not an item or belonging. Essentially, both types require swimming pool liability insurance because both types are considered attractive nuisances that pose a risk of injury. That being said, municipal by-laws about pools may differ based on your type, and you'll likely need different kinds or amounts of property insurance for each type.

7. Swimming Pool Contractor Insurance Is Not the Same as Swimming Pool Liability Insurance

These two coverages can get confused because of the similar names, but they're pretty different. Swimming pool liability insurance is a specialized type of personal liability coverage designed to offer homeowners financial protection against the costs of litigation and settlements if they are sued for allegedly causing pool-related injuries to a third party.

On the other hand, swimming pool contractor insurance is a type of commercial contractor insurance policy that gives financial protection against liability costs to contractors who build in-ground pools if they are accused of causing property damage or bodily injury while building a pool. It may also offer them protection for contractor-caused damages that arise after the pool is complete.

8. Additional Coverage May Be Necessary for a Pool Slide or Diving Board

You may need increased liability limits to transfer the additional risk of injury that comes with having a diving board or pool slide. Still, it's unlikely to be a significant difference in cost. Regardless, it's essential to ensure your Morison Insurance broker knows about your pool's features so they can get you the best possible swimming pool liability insurance to protect you from the unexpected expenses that come with a lawsuit.

What Are Some Ways for Pool Owners to Minimize Risk of Injury?

The only way to completely avoid the risk of pool-related injury is not to have a pool, but there's no point in being so cautious you take all the fun out of life. That's why controlling and transferring risk are suitable options for homeowners with swimming pools. Controlling risk involves taking concrete safety measures to keep your pool secure and lessen the risk that someone could be injured. Here are some tips on how to minimize the risk of bodily injury and avoid needing to make a swimming pool liability insurance claim:

  • Keep It Under Lock and Key: Along with a mandatory pool fence, the fence must have a locking gate. Homeowners should diligently keep the gate locked—not just latched—whenever the pool is unused.
  • Safety Devices: You could save someone's life by making sure safety flotation devices, such as a lifeguard ring, are available near the pool so they can be grabbed quickly.
  • Supervise Children: Do not allow children to use your pool unless a responsible adult closely supervises them.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Do not let anyone intoxicated with alcohol or drugs use the pool.
  • Clear Signage: It doesn't hurt to put a "No Trespassing" sign on the fence to show that you at least attempted to warn away trespassers. It would help if you also considered posting a sign that lists the rules for using your pool, such as not using it while intoxicated.
  • First Aid Preparation: It's a great idea to have all the members of your household receive some basic first aid training so they know what to do in an emergency and keep a first aid kit readily available near the pool area.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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