Before purchasing a trampoline or building a treehouse, its best that home insurance policyholders consider the impact each will have on their policy. This guide will detail what steps a homeowner needs to take if they are considering buying a trampoline or treehouse while ensuring adequate protection.
Trampolines & Home Insurance
If your home insurance policy covers trampoline-related injuries, remember that only those outside of the household would fall under that liability coverage. Any members of the household who are injured would not be able to file a home insurance claim. They would either be covered by their health insurance company or have to pay for any necessary treatment out-of-pocket.
Trampolines are considered an attractive nuisance, which is something on someone’s property that might might attract a child but pose a risk to their well-being. Anything considered an attractive nuisance is the responsibility of the property owner and they are liable for any harm it might cause. This includes any injuries sustained whether a child is supervised or did or did not have permission to use an attractive nuisance. Fortunately, some home insurance companies will cover this risk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to get trampolines because of the risk associated with them. There were 92,159 hospital emergency room-treated injuries caused by trampolines in 2010, according to the most recent data available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In the event something happens to someone jumping on a trampoline on your property, you don’t want to be liable and have to pay for medical costs out-of-pocket. The liability costs could be extremely high, especially considering one in 200 trampoline injuries result in permanent neurological damage.
Before you buy a trampoline, contact your home insurance company and inquire about them. As a policyholder, you will likely find yourself in one of the three situations below.
Your Existing Policy Covers Trampolines
Some insurance companies might not care whether you own a trampoline or not. Anyone who is injured while using the trampoline on your property would be covered by the liability protection that is part of your home insurance policy. This, unfortunately, is not typically the case.
Trampolines are Excluded or Must Have a Safety Net
The most likely scenario is that a good home insurance company will allow you to have a trampoline with some stipulations. Some companies will cover claims related to a trampoline injury, as long as it has safety nets that prevent bouncers from falling off. You also must use it in the recommended fashion - one bouncer at a time and without water or anything else.
For example, Nationwide insurance details the equipment requirements trampoline owners should follow, such as installing high safety nets and placing the trampoline over sand or wood chips versus concrete. If a homeowner doesn’t do the above, they could potentially make themselves vulnerable to a claim denial.
Some carriers might allow policyholders to have a trampoline but have written in their policies that they will not cover any claims related to trampoline accidents. This is a dangerous situation for a policyholder, since they would have to pay for potential liability claims related to the trampoline out-of-pocket, which might be very expensive.
For example, MAPRE Insurance will cover a trampoline with the proper safety net installed. On the other hand, Aegis Security Insurance has a mandatory endorsement to their home insurance policy offered in California that excludes any “loss, damage, cost, claim expense, bodily injury, property damage or medical payments” related to trampolines, bounce houses or inflatable slides. Aegis Security Insurance also explicitly states that the company has no duty to “investigate, defend or indemnify” any claim or lawsuit seeking damages.
Your Carrier Might Cancel or Choose Not to Renew Your Policy
Do not buy a trampoline without consulting your home insurance company. If you purchased a policy and your carrier insured you with the understanding that you did not own a trampoline, buying one might have serious consequences, including a cancellation or nonrenewal.
To some companies, the liability of a trampoline is simply higher than they are will to insure and instead of excluding it, they will choose not to insure those who have them. For example, Eagle West Insurance company will not renew homes in California that they discover have purchased a trampoline.
Treehouses & Home Insurance
Exclusions for treehouses are less likely than trampolines because they are not comparatively as high-risk. Fewer than 2,800 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to tree houses each year, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy.
Having said that, homeowners need to speak to their insurance company before building a treehouse to be sure they are not in violation of their policy agreement and subject to either a cancellation or nonrenewal. Like a trampoline, if a member of the household suffers a treehouse-related injury, they will need to file a health insurance claim or pay for any medical expenses out-of-pocket. However, if a neighbor or anyone else in injured using a policyholder’s treehouse, the policyholder would be liable.
Make sure if you build a treehouse you do everything you can to eliminate obvious risks and make it as safe as possible. Choose a sturdy tree to build it, make sure it is adequately constructed and be sure it is in compliance with local authorities. Tree houses cannot give those using them the ability to look into the homes of any neighbor or be near any power lines.