When shopping for a homeowner’s insurance policy, it’s likely that you’ll come across the following question: “Do you have a trampoline?”
At first glance, this does seem strange. Why would an insurance company care if you own what is essentially a large children’s toy? The answer is liability coverage.
You may be aware of the inherent dangers associated with trampolines. This post is not meant to dissuade you from owning one.
Our goal is to help learn about how they can affect your home insurance policy and what you can do to get covered and stay covered.
What’s the Harm?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regularly publish statistics about the startling number of individuals hospitalized due to a trampoline injury each year.
According to the AAP, the most common trampoline injuries include broken bones, concussions, and head and neck injuries. These are the kinds of issues that require overnight hospital stays and can end up being very expensive.
With this level of risk, it’s unsurprising that insurers are wary of issuing policies to trampoline owners.
Why is my homeowners insurance getting involved?
If you or your child were injured on your trampoline, you would likely seek treatment covered by your health insurance policy. There would be no reason to contact your homeowners insurance carrier.
Home insurance comes into play when individuals outside of your immediate family are injured.
If your children play on the trampoline with their friends or any other guests to your home and these guests get hurt, you may be liable to pay their medical expenses. A standard homeowners insurance policy typically includes liability coverage for just this type of situation.
Your trampoline can also blow away during a storm and cause damage to other parts of your property. Trampolines are often not secured properly (if at all) to the ground. Home insurance carriers are reluctant to cover people with items that could easily damage their own property or neighbor’s property.
How can I reduce risk?
If you do choose to have a trampoline, here’s how you can be proactive about reducing risk:
- Don’t buy second-hand – A trampoline purchase is not the time to be cheap. Purchase a new trampoline to take advantage of warranty protection from the retailer and the manufacturer.
- Perform preventative maintenance – Periodically inspect the trampoline to look for defects and damage. Pay special attention to the springs which can rust.
- Supervise – An adult should always watch kids on a trampoline. They should also enforce safety rules like limiting the number of people on the trampoline at a time and make sure that the kids bounce at the center of the mat.
- Use a net – Using a safety net can reduce the likelihood of someone falling to the ground. This isn’t a foolproof method of preventing injury, however, as participants can still fall on to the sides and edges of the trampoline.
- Set trampoline close to the ground – This tip complements using a safety net. While you want to prevent falls as much as possible, if someone does fall off, they won’t go very far. Keeping the trampoline low also makes getting on and off safer.
- Set up the trampoline in a clear area – Low hanging tree branches pose an overhead risk. Make sure the trampoline is placed a significant distance from trees or anything else that could hit someone on the head.
What will I need to do for my home insurance?
Whether or not having a trampoline will be a problem will depend on your homeowners insurance policy. While some may simply require a small surcharge on your premium, others will require you to develop a detailed plan to reduce risk. In addition to the tips above, do the following to show insurers how you plan on minimizing the risk of having a trampoline:
- Use a safety net with a lock – Make sure that children don’t have any unsupervised access to the trampoline. Also remember to store the key in a place that children can’t access or find.
- Anchor the trampoline to the ground – This is an easy way to prevent serious damage. You might need to hire a professional to show you the best way to anchor a trampoline securely.
- Keep records of preventative maintenance – Make note of any work you have done or parts you have replaced on the trampoline in an effort to maintain it. Also take pictures on a regular basis to prove how it looked at any point in time. These records will be helpful if there’s an accident and you are accused of negligence.