While it’s part of the American dream for many homeowners, owning a home with a swimming pool can also be a source of problems. Maintenance and repairs can be very costly, as pools require ongoing care. In addition, in many parts of the country, there is only a limited time each year when pools are actually usable by homeowners without incurring the additional expense of heating all the water. At the same time, homeowners need to understand the impact on their home insurance policies and what types of swimming pool risk and damages are or are not covered by the standard home insurance policy.
The Chicago Tribune recently published a story about pool safety after several drownings in the local area. If you have a swimming pool, you should be concerned first with your liability risk before even considering property risk. A pool is generally considered an “attractive nuisance” by law in most jurisdictions. This means that you have a condition on your property, which may entice children to enter your property and play, even though they are not legally invited. If they are injured or killed, you can still be held liable as you created the attractive nuisance.
To minimize your risk, it’s important as a homeowner to take the necessary precautions in preventing easy access to your swimming pool. Most municipalities have code sections that require walls of a certain height and type of construction to hinder unwanted access. You must build to these specifications at a minimum. In addition to protecting against uninvited persons using your pool, you also need to consider the safety of any invited guests. To protect against lawsuits for injuries, your home insurance policy’s personal liability coverage should be carefully evaluated. Perhaps you should consider increasing your liability limits on your existing policy or purchasing an umbrella liability policy for even more protection.
Another aspect of owning a swimming pool is the physical cost of maintenance and repairs. Keep in mind that most home insurance policies exclude damage to the swimming pool itself, which can come in the form of collapse, sinking, and water seepage. Standard covered perils, such as fire and rain, are unlikely to cause damage to a pool, and it’s more common for pools to develop cracks due to the ground settling or water seeping out, which then causes erosion. Also, it’s not unusual for the ground around your home to shift over time, and while this may not be much of an issue for your lawn or patio, the moving soil can create significant problems for your swimming pool. Unfortunately, the insurance policy considers these issues to be maintenance-related and not sudden and accidental, so damages to your pool will likely not be covered. With that in mind, your budget for swimming pool ownership should consider the ongoing cost of repairs.
A swimming pool can be a fantastic addition to your property, bringing hours of enjoyment for you and your family. Swimming pools can be awesome additions in states where summer weather is regularly in the 100’s such as Texas – Austin, Arlington, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio. However, do not forget to first consider the total cost of ownership before taking the plunge and adding a swimming pool to your home in any city.