Buying an above-ground pool? Don’t forget the insurance!

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New York, July 5, 2005 – With temperatures soaring in many parts of the country, above-ground pools are an appealing option to beat the summer heat. Inflating a pool for use in the back yard may seem simple enough, but there are insurance and safety implications to consider, according to the U.S.-based Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I).

The National Spa and Pool Institute reports that above- ground pools are rising in popularity with more than 3.7 million households purchasing a pool — an increase of over 11 percent since 2002.

“The ease of installing an above-ground pool – many of which are inflatable — may give some families a false sense of security about their inherent dangers,” says Jeanne M. Salvatore, vice president, consumer affairs. “All pools — from a simple kiddy pool to an aquatic extravaganza — can be dangerous and need to be properly insured and comply with local safety standards.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, over 3,200 people drown each year. Among children ages one to four, most drowned in residential swimming pools. Most of these young children had been out of sight for less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

If you plan to purchase a pool, the I.I.I. suggests:

  • Contact your town or municipality
    Each town will have its own definition of a “pool,” often based on its size and water depth. If the pool you are planning to buy meets the definition, then you must comply with local safety standards and building codes. This may include installing a fence of a certain size, locks, decks, and pool safety equipment.

  • Call your insurance broker or company representative
    Let your insurance company know that you have a pool, since it will increase your liability risk. Pools are considered an “attractive nuisance,” and it may be advisable to purchase additional liability insurance. Most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. Pool owners, however, may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000.
    You may want to talk to your agent or company representative about purchasing an umbrella liability policy. For an additional premium of about $200 to $300 a year, you get $1 million of liability protection over and above what you have on your home. It would also provide added liability protection when you drive.
    If the pool itself is expensive or if you decide to install an in-ground structure, you should also have enough insurance protection to replace it in the event it is destroyed by a storm or other disaster.

  • Learn about pool safety
    When using the pool, make sure it is properly supervised by someone who knows how to swim. If you have children, consider that they take swimming lessons as early as possible. And, never leave toys or floats in the pool when not in use, as they may prove to be a deadly temptation for toddlers trying to reach them.
    In addition to the fences or other barriers required by many towns, pool owners should also consider creating “layers of protection” around the pool. This means setting up as many barriers as possible to make it difficult for a child to get into the pool area when not in use. This would include installing door alarms, locks and safety covers to help prevent accidents.

If the pool has a filter, keep children away from it and other mechanical devices, as the suction force may cause injuries and even drowning. In case of an emergency, know how to shut off these devices and clearly post this information for easy use.

Pay attention to the weather. Excessive heat can cause dizziness — even in and around a pool — and never swim during thunder and lightning.

In the event of an accident, clearly post emergency numbers on the phone. Keep a first-aid kit, ring buoys, and reaching poles near the pool. You may also want to consider basic first aid and CPR training.

The Insurance Information Institute is a non-profit, communications organization supported by the property/casualty insurance business.