Most Florida homeowners have a love-hate relationship with their swimming pools.
Sure, it’s perfect for lounging and cooling off during those warm, sunny months. But those days can instantly turn into faded memories once a hurricane passes by, after having lifted a giant tree from its roots and slamming it into your swimming pool.
It’s true that most home insurance providers will cover pools as part of the premium – and therefore giving you peace of mind – but not all are willing to do it at a low cost.
Further, there is a risk that your insurer will deny a claim if your pool does not already comply with local municipality laws.
Well, we’re here to tell you that there are ways to avoid this situation, and that is by taking steps that minimize the risks. After all, you’re the one in control.
Most homeowners insurance policies include cover for external structures on your property, including sheds and swimming pools, up to certain limits. You can choose to increase your property coverage limits based on the value of your pool and surrounding amenities, like a waterslide.
Beyond the risk of physical damage to your pool, there is also the risk of liability in the event of a pool-related injury or death. Homeowners insurance policies usually cover any medical bills or lawsuits that derive from an incident at your home.
However, because a pool can increase your liability risk, it might be smart to increase your coverage. A homeowners policy usually provides $100,000 in base liability coverage, but it is recommended you increase those limits to $300,000 or $500,000 if you have a backyard pool.
This may seem high, but that is because the risk is high. According to the Florida Department of Health, the Sunshine State leads the nation in drowning deaths of children ages 1 to 4.
Minimizing the risks
Despite the increased risks, however, there are ways you can try to avoid these situations.
According to the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, all outdoor swimming pools are required to have a minimum 4-foot barrier without any gaps. The barrier must also be placed sufficiently away from the water’s edge.
Any gates or entry to the pool area must open outward, away from the pool, and be self-locking as well as be placed so that it cannot be reached by a young child.
Some local municipalities have stricter rules, and there may be extra steps to take to ensure your property and liability is protected. Generally, however, the more barriers and the more safety measures in place, the better the outcome.
How does a swimming pool impact my insurance premium?
Most homeowners insurance policies include cover for external structures on your property, including sheds and swimming pools, up to certain limits.
You can choose to increase your property coverage limits based on the value of your pool and surrounding amenities, like a waterslide. Beyond the risk of physical damage to your pool, there is also the risk of liability in the event of a pool-related injury or death.
Homeowners insurance policies usually cover any medical bills or lawsuits that derive from an incident at your home.
What if I have a diving board?
If your home has a diving board or other pool extras such as a slide, you could see your swimming pool be excluded from your coverage completely.
This is because slides and divining boards present a higher risk for injuries and medical expenses. Some insurance companies may agree to cover your pool’s diving board, but for a higher price.
Does the location of my pool make a difference to my coverage?
The location of your pool could impact your policy if it is not compliant with local municipality laws. Non-compliance could mean your insurer will deny any pool-related claims.
Typically, the common location for a pool is 5 ft away from the side property line, 10 ft from the back, and 5 ft from the home structure. Most importantly, a pool should be at least 10 ft from a power line.
To be certain of the rules that apply to you, it’s always best to call your local municipality.
What are the different types of pools?
There are typically three different types of swimming pools: in-ground, above-ground and portable.
An in-ground is just as the name suggests, it’s built in the ground. An above-ground pool sits on top of the ground and typically requires a ladder to enter. A portable swimming pool can take several forms, including inflatable pools and hard plastic pools.
These are also known as children’s pools and are smaller in size compared to in-ground and above-ground pools.
What if I have an indoor pool?
Having an indoor swimming pool may lower your liability, as it can better prevent trespassers from having access to your pool and getting injured. But many insurers refuse to cover them as they are located too close to power lines, which is against some local municipality laws. They may also increase your risk of flood or water damage. It’s best to find out with your agent if coverage is a possibility.
Can I exclude coverage on my pool?
This depends on the insurance company, but most will cover your swimming pool as part of the external structures section of your home insurance policy. If you wish to exclude your pool from your policy, get in touch with your agent to explore the possibilities.
Why do I need a pool fence?
Florida homes with swimming pools are required to have a fence around the pool. According to the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, all outdoor swimming pools are required to have a minimum 4-foot barrier without any gaps. The barrier must also be placed sufficiently away from the water’s edge.
Some local municipalities have stricter rules, and there may be extra steps to take to ensure your property and liability is protected.
Will I be denied insurance if I don’t have a pool fence?
Your insurance company may decide to exclude your pool from coverage if you do not meet the state and local municipality laws. This could mean any pool-related claims you file will be denied.
What are the types of screen enclosures?
There are several types of home screen enclosures. You can choose between an attached screen enclosure or a standalone structure. The most common type of screen enclosure are ones that attach to the home’s back porch, usually covering a swimming pool. There are also screen enclosures for backyard decks, front porches, and front entries.
Some homes are built with a roof that extends to cover the patio, so the screen enclosure usually consists only of one screen wall. Other screen enclosures, which are also known as ‘pool cages’, consist of an aluminum roof that is added to the back of the home.
How does my screen enclosure affect my insurance premium?
Because screen enclosures are extremely susceptible to wind damage, many home insurance companies have stopped providing coverage for them within a standard policy. Some insurers continue to cover screens but exclude hurricane as a covered peril.
If your home has a screen enclosure it’s important to know whether your insurance company provides any coverage. As a shopper, you may be faced with a higher premium if your home contains a screen enclosure.