Trampolines make insurers queasy – Insurance News Net | Hot Mobile Press

SIOUX CITY — Children love trampolines and swimming pools with slides and diving boards. Homeowners insurance carriers typically don’t do this.

A number of insurance carriers do not cover homes with trampolines or pools at all. Or they may offer a policy for the property, but with an exclusion clause that exempts the company from trampoline- or pool-related injuries and leaves the homeowner completely on the hook.

Others may be willing to insure trampolines and pools but with conditional terms and higher premiums due to liability risk.

“Usually when we’re writing a brand new account and you have a trampoline and/or swimming pool it makes a difference which carriers we can write. Most will want a privacy fence with lockable gates, and that’s for protection from the average passer-by or neighborhood kid just coming in and jumping in the pool or getting on the trampoline,” he said Tim McClintockPresident of McClintock Insurance in Sioux City.

Insurance companies tend to be particular about these things. Chain link fences are not considered “privacy fences” because it’s pretty easy for a passer-by to see the enticing trampoline that’s just behind the fence. The fence needs to hide what’s behind it – a wooden fence might do the trick if it’s high enough and has a locked gate. Privacy fences are also often a requirement for trampoline owners under many city statutes.

Insurers are sometimes more lenient with trampolines located on rural properties, as wayward children are less likely to walk over them and injure themselves. Trampolines with nets around them can also be viewed better, and pools without a diving board or slide may not be such a dead end.

For insurers, swimming pools and (particularly) trampolines represent an “attractive nuisance” – meaning they have a reputation for attracting and then harming children. Corresponding American Family Insurance“Most insurance companies don’t cover trampolines because they think they’re too expensive due to liability risks.”

(As an aside, the legal term “attractive harassment” was first used in US in 1873 supreme court case of Sioux City & Pacific Railroad Co. v. Stout, who noted that the Sioux City & Pacific Railroad liable after a child was injured while playing on a railroad property Nebraska. The term “attractive harassment” had not yet been used, but the concept was essentially the same; the term first appeared in another court case a few years later.)

Insurance companies’ reluctance to use trampolines and swimming pools stems solely from the actuarial risk that a user will require costly medical care following an injury. Youthful exuberance can raise the stakes beyond an insurer’s wildest nightmares.

“If you look like that tick tock Videos, ‘Hey, let’s try this challenge’, and they’re running off the garage roof onto the trampoline, into the pool, and the pool is only four feet so there’s a lot of risk of injury. Especially when they overshoot the pool. So that can be catastrophic,” McClintock said.

And health insurance companies increasingly don’t want to pay a bill that another entity might be responsible for—for example, when an injury has occurred in a way that would make a home insurance carrier liable.

“That’s what we’re seeing more and more often, not just with homeowners, ownership issues, auto insurance and everything else,” McClintock said.

“The health insurance company comes back and says, ‘Oh, that was an accident. We want this company to pay for it and give us our money back,'” he added.

It’s a bad idea to install a pool or trampoline without notifying the insurance company. This can result in the insurance contract being canceled before the end of the term due to incorrect information being provided at the time the contract was concluded.

Insurance carriers don’t joke about such things, McClintock said. Some of them use Google Earth and even drones to monitor the presence of attractive annoyances on properties they insure.

“There are existing accounts where if they add a trampoline or a pool and they don’t tell their agent, they suffer a loss – let’s say an injury – and then the company won’t renew because they don’t. I don’t like these exposures,” he said. “So if the extension is due, they could quit in the medium term due to the increased risk.”

Homeowners who choose to assume liability themselves (disclaimer mentioned above) may end up regretting that decision. You can’t get blood from a beet, but that probably won’t stop the plaintiff from trying after her child suffered a trampoline-induced fracture.

“Usually what happens when the medical bills are high enough and they don’t cover them is that the family that owns the property where the breach occurred on the property has to file for bankruptcy,” McClintock said.

McClintock is no stranger to trampoline and pool horror stories. “Springboards where they dunked and hurt themselves – we had one where they broke their necks. That was a big lawsuit. The company paid for it and then settled on not offering any more renewals unless she took out the springboard.”

“If someone is injured, the injury can be significant. So it may be a broken arm, we had one where the kid had his teeth knocked out because he had them stuck in the (trampoline) spring,” he said.

That was not always so. Decades ago, McClintock says, insurance carriers would have been a little less afraid of trampolines and swimming pools. Everything was different then.

“[In the past]lawsuits weren’t as widespread as they are today,” he said. “Medical costs, medical bills are astronomical today compared to back then. They broke their arm, they would put it in a cast, it could be $200, $300 back then. Now you’re talking, ‘Well, we’re going to do x-rays, we might need to get a plastic surgeon, how many injuries are we talking about, oh god, you need therapy to get your arm strength back.’ Back then, put in a cast, it was done.”

Nobody ever thinks this will happen to them – a person probably wouldn’t buy a trampoline or a pool with a diving board if they saw it as a burden and heartache waiting for it to happen.

“Everybody’s your friend, your pal, and your pal when it comes to being on the trampoline, but when someone gets hurt, they look at you like a bank account,” McClintock said. “All of those bills will be done by you, not us, even if our kid or we jump on that stuff or swim in the pool.”

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