Trampolines and Homeowners Insurance Coverage – How a Trampoline Affects Your Home Insurance Policy
How will having a trampoline affect the cost of my homeowners insurance policy? In the US alone, the number of trampolines in use is approximately 3 million, which means roughly 3% of all American homes have a trampoline somewhere on their property. Unfortunately, many of those 3 million trampolines will be responsible for numerous injuries. When you take into account that an estimated $280 million dollars a year is spent by insurance companies to treat injuries caused by trampoline use, the consumer can begin to understand why insurance companies are becoming increasingly reluctant to insure homes with a trampoline.
Trampoline related injuries tripled in the years from 1991-1999, and in 1999 over 100,000 incidents of hospital emergency room visits were for trampoline related injuries. (Two-thirds of all injuries were in the age group 6-14.) Although 40% of all trampoline injuries are to the leg and foot area, some injuries such as paralysis have occurred and the resulting lifelong condition has caused the medical cost for treatment of these injuries and the long care assistance to go far above the policy limits set by most homeowners insurance companies. In addition, the number of trampoline related deaths since 1999 is 11.
That is the down side of trampoline use. There is also an upside that is often overlooked. And although there have been numerous injuries as a result of trampoline use, there are also many households who have owned a trampoline for many years, gotten nearly daily use out of it, and never had a single injury. These homes have supervised trampoline activity, set up some basic guidelines for its use (the number of people permitted to jump at a time, no flips allowed, no pushing, etc.), and have installed a safety net that prevented jumpers from falling off the trampoline.
Trampoline manufactures also have done much in recent years to improve the safety of their product. The smaller, round units with padding covering the springs and the availability of an affordable net system all are meant to help the user avoid injuries. (Of all the people I’ve spoken to who own a trampoline, all insist that they would not own one if there was not a safety net enclosing their trampoline.) There are also many health benefits associated with the trampoline. In the age of video games and television, a trampoline offers the opportunity to play in the sunshine, get involved in muscle building exercise, and encourages the kids to do something together. And for some reason its appeal does not seem to wane, even after many years of use.
Many homeowners insurance policies contain what is called a “Trampoline Exclusion” clause. If you own a homeowners insurance policy with them they will cover liability for injuries that occurred to others while on your property, but they will not cover trampoline related injuries. If you have set up your trampoline after you purchased homeowners insurance policy, you may not know if you have coverage. Most insurance companies in their paperwork ask if you have a trampoline on your property.
With some insurers this is an issue and they may ask you to remove the trampoline or have your insurance policy canceled. Also, in the event that a guest is injured while jumping on your trampoline, and you are uncertain whether you have liability coverage in that area, you may find out the hard way that you are responsible for some hefty medical bills. It would be best to find out now, and not after the fact and take the necessary steps in order to be held financially responsible.
Another problem with trampolines is that they are considered an “attractive nuisance”. Just as with a swimming pool they “beg” to be tried out. People, regardless if permission has been given, are tempted to try them out. You may even have signs warning against trespassing, but if someone ignores those warnings, jumps on your trampoline and injurers himself, you may be subject to a lawsuit. ( I know, go figure.) You may not be found liable in court, but the cost of going to court and the attorney fees still means that the insurance company has had to pay out some big bucks and this is another strike against the use of backyard trampolines.
MAJOR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COMPANIES AND THEIR POLICIES REGARDING TRAMPOLINES
Although there may be certain variations from state to state, Allstate, Farmers Insurance, and SF Insurance have the three basic approaches to trampoline coverage.
Farmers Insurance – HOMEOWNERS WITH TRAMPOLINES MAY BE DENIED COVERAGE
In Pennsylvania, owners of trampolines cannot get coverage through Farmers Insurance. Other states, have different parameters and a call to Farmers will inform you if they will give you coverage and what qualifications might be attached to the policy.
Allstate – COVERAGE WITH CERTAIN SAFETY PRECAUTIONS IN PLACE
Allstate offers coverage as long as certain safety precautions are adhered to. Their policy requires that the trampoline be enclose by a safety net and that it also be located within a fenced enclosure that is at least 4 feet high. The gate to the fence must also have a lock on it and the lock must be in use.
SF Insurance – NO EXCLUSIONS
Under a traditional homeowners policy, there are no exclusions for trampoline owners.
The above are just three major insurers, but there are many more along with smaller independent insurance companies that should be considered for homeowners insurance coverage. The important point is to make sure that YOUR homeowners policy covers liability cost for trampoline related injuries. If not, then it’s time to start shopping again.
Whether your homeowners insurance policy already covers trampolines or not – it is always a good idea to shop around every 6 months and compare rates from top companies side by side. Be sure that you are not paying more for homeowners insurance coverage than you should.