A backyard swimming pool may be a fun way to relax in the summer sun, but it can also be a liability. So before you install a pool on your property, consider how it’ll affect your home insurance.
Premiums will often increase because you’re asking your insurer to take on more risk for both damage to the pool and for accidents it may cause.
In terms of physical damage to backyard pools, coverage varies from insurer to insurer. Many consider portable above-ground pools to be part of your personal property that’s already covered by your home insurance policy.
In-ground pools, on the other hand, could be considered part of your main house—that would again be covered by your main policy—or they could be considered an external structure, similar to a garden shed, and need extra insurance. You might still have to buy more coverage for pools that are above ground or that are considered part of the main property if your main policy caps pool coverage to less than its replacement value.
But while repairing damage to your pool can be costly—installing a backyard swimming pool starts at $20,000, the Ottawa Citizen reports—it’s even more expensive to pay medical bills or lost wages if a friend’s toddler drowns or a neighbour hits their head on the deck.
Between 1991 and 2013, an average of 518 Canadians died in water-related accidents each year, according to a recent Canadian Red Cross report. While half of those deaths occurred in lakes, ponds, and oceans, 8% happened in backyard pools. And homeowners can be held liable for deaths and injuries that take place in their pools, even if the victim was trespassing.
While your homeowner’s insurance policy can respond to any pool-related lawsuits, make sure you follow the safety precautions they set out. Not doing so could invalidate your policy.
Mandatory safety measures vary by insurance provider, but many require homeowners to install a fence (don’t forget the lock) around the pool. Your municipality may also require you to do so, as well as specifying a minimum height for that fence. In Toronto, for example, fences around pools have to be at least 1.2 metres high. Also consider posting a warning sign and installing solid or mesh safety covers for when the pool isn’t in use.
Make sure children are always supervised when in the pool. And if anyone doesn’t use the pool safely, get them out of the water. So if your neighbours have a few too many drinks at the block party, get a little rowdy, and start a game of tag on the slippery deck, move the party inside as soon as possible.
Also remember that insurance isn’t meant to replace run-of-the-mill maintenance tasks. During the summer, get rid of debris in the water, check chlorine levels and make sure toys aren’t stuck in the plumbing. In the off-season, hire a professional to open and close the pool, as well as to check for cracks.
To estimate your insurance costs, get a home insurance quote.
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