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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Perfecting Your Pool’s Protection


By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy pxfuel
They say some like it hot.  But if that’s the case, then the people who say it probably weren’t in Florida in July and August.  Between the heat and the humidity, both of which hover in the mid-90’s for weeks on end, most of the residents and tourists brave enough to venture outdoors in the Sunshine State during the dog days only do so to go from the comfort of their air conditioned car or an air conditioned mall.  The only exception to this rule is when they dive into the surf or the cool comfort of a swimming pool.  If you own a pool or are considering adding one to your property, there are a few things you need to know if you want to keep your pool from becoming a bottomless pit for lawsuits.

How to keep your cool if you own a pool.

While a swimming pool adds value to your home, it also adds liability that you otherwise wouldn’t have to sweat if your dwelling was pool-free.  That’s because from an insurance perspective, adding a pool adds to a homeowner’s risk.  While your homeowner’s policy will cover you, your family and your guests against any injury sustained in or around your pool, the standard liability protection on a basic policy is only $100,000.  This could prove inadequate should either a guest or even an uninvited guest come to any harm while using your pool.   That’s right, even a trespasser can sue you if they were to injure themselves in your swimming pool.  If you own one or are thinking about adding a pool, talk to your insurance agent about the cost of increasing your homeowner’s liability coverage.

What’s better an in-ground or above-ground pool?

Image courtesy flickr
While an above-ground pool might be cheaper to install, it’s generally more difficult to insure.  That’s due to the fact that insurance companies regard an above-ground pool as personal property, as opposed to an in-ground pool that’s considered an immovable structure. This means you won’t receive the same kind of protection for an above-ground pool as you would an in-ground pool.  If your above-ground pool is damaged, any repair costs will be covered by the personal property protection portion of your homeowner’s policy.  That being said, an in-ground pool isn’t generally covered under most homeowner’s policies since they aren’t an attached structure.  This means you’ll have to add Other Structures coverage if you want to insure your in-ground pool against damage.  

What kind of damage is covered for a swimming pool?

When it comes to pools, covered perils vary from insurer to insurer.  That means you’ll need to read your policy to determine what is covered and what isn’t.  If your pool should get damaged by a peril that isn’t listed in your policy, guess who gets to pay for the repair?  That’s right, you do.  You also want to read the fine print in your policy to determine whether your coverage is based on actual cash value or replacement cost.  The difference could be significant should you need to file a claim.  Unless you want to dig into your wallet for anything other than your deductible, you should opt for a replacement cost policy.

Other than structural damage, what other hazards do pools present?

Image courtesy flickr
While a swimming pool is a great way to cool off during the summer, owning a pool is fraught with perils aplenty.  That’s because everything in and around a pool can pose a hazard.  Not only are pools responsible for more injuries and fatalities than any other place in a home other than the bathroom, but the area that abuts a pool is the number one source of slip and fall injuries in a home.  If you have children, the risks are even worse since children have a magnetic affinity to swimming pools.  Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children aged 1-14.  Only death by motor vehicle is higher for this age group.  Even adults aren’t immune from injury or death since it’s all too easy to slip and fall on a wet pool patio while entering or exiting a swimming pool.  Each year in this country more than 5,100 pool or hot tub-related injuries require treatment in the ER.

How can you reduce the incidence of pool-related accidents?

While owning a pool increases a homeowner’s liability, that doesn’t mean that the risks can’t be mitigated.  Below are the top-10 ways to reduce risk in and around your pool:

      1.      Install a privacy fence with a locking gate.  You’d be surprised at the lengths people will go to enjoy a cool dip, whether they’re invited or not.  If you want to keep uninvited guests and children out of your pool, you’ll need to install a fence that’s too tall to climb over and a gate with a lock.

      2.      Add an alarm – If you really want to keep your pool area secure, adding an alarm that sounds when the gate is opened is another recommended safety tip. 

      3.      Don’t allow any unsupervised swimmers in your pool. – This includes tots, teens and adults, especially elderly adults.  All it takes is one careless moment to turn a bright, sunny day into a dismal disaster should someone take a tumble into your pool.

      4.      Post rules near your pool. – Include such admonitions as No Diving, No Running, No Swimming without Supervision, No Drinking & Swimming and No Horseplay Near the Pool.

      5.      Don’t swim alone. – Not only is a pool potentially hazardous to your family, friends and guests, it could also do you harm. 

      6.      Don’t eat and swim. – If you plan on having a barbecue, do so after everyone has gotten out of the pool.  Eating before swimming is one of the quickest ways to wind up cramping up.  If you plan on feeding everyone before they swim, allow one hour to elapse before opening the pool to your family and guests.

      7.      Take a First Aid Class. – Do you know how to rescue and resuscitate anyone who falls into your pool?  A Red Cross first aid course should be a requirement for anyone who owns a swimming pool.

      8.      Police the pool patio. – While your family and guests love taking a refreshing dip, what they don’t love is policing the area when they get out.  Everything from toys and floats to chairs and towels can become hazards if they’re left lying around your pool.  That means when everyone heads indoors you need to head to the patio to straighten out and clean up the area.

      9.      Have life vests on hand for anyone who can’t swim. – This includes children and adults who could easily find themselves in water that’s too deep to stand up in.

      10.  Keep a phone nearby. – If you should need to summon the ambulance squad, seconds count.  Therefore, it’s a prudent precaution to have a phone handy just in case.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/

2 comments:

  1. Pools and bathrooms are so dangerous because they're both so wet and slippery.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you own a pool you need to make sure you have an umbrella policy as well. ;D

    ReplyDelete

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