Putting up a trampoline in your backyard is almost a sure bet to entertain your kids for hours – getting them out of the house into the fresh air and providing them great exercise to boot. In fact, trampolines are so enjoyable that soon neighbor kids or friends may want to join in the fun – and this is where the insurance problem lies.
As children of different sizes (and even some adults) compete to see who can jump the highest or pull off the coolest trick, injuries frequently occur. When that injury happens to someone outside your family, it will often lead to a claim under your Homeowners Liability coverage. After all, it is your trampoline and therefore your responsibility to supervise its use, making you financially responsible for whatever goes wrong.
Livestrong.com reports that trampolines cause over 100,000 injuries in the US each year. Of these injuries, at least ten percent affect the head and neck. While many injuries may be just minor bruises, some end up being very serious such as broken bones, blunt trauma and even paralysis, reports spineuniverse.com. The American Academy of Pediatrics considers the risk so serious as to recommend that trampolines never be purchased for home use and advises parents to never allow their children to play on someone else’s trampoline.
Because of how frequently people do get hurt on trampolines, many insurance companies consider trampolines to be an added level of risk that they would prefer to avoid. However, there is a lot of differences in how different Homeowners carriers treat trampolines.
Some carriers either forbid them entirely as a condition of coverage or else add stringent requirements in an effort to reduce the risk. For example, one carrier we represent requires a six-foot fence around it with a self-locking gate. (This is to attempt to avoid neighbor kids from using the trampoline when you aren’t home to supervise.) Other carriers may ask for photos to document that additional safety precautions are in place (see my list further down in this post).
Some insurance companies will ask you to sign an exclusion form if you have a trampoline. If you sign this, your policy won’t pay for any injuries that occur on the trampoline. Keep in mind that if there were a serious trampoline injury not covered by your insurance, you could be on the hook personally for the lawsuit – both defense costs as well as the dollar value of any eventual settlement or verdict. One carrier we represent limits trampoline liability coverage on all of its policies to $10,000 – which would not be nearly enough financial protection in many situations.
Another carrier we represent deals with the added risk by raising your rates around $40 a year if you own a trampoline.
However, not all carriers try to address trampolines, probably figuring that they aren’t going to be able to keep track of who has one and who doesn’t at any given time. Two Homeowners companies we represent don’t ask about trampolines and don’t take any action if they find out that you have one.
So, will adding a trampoline affect your insurance? It largely depends on what insurance company you are currently with and what their trampoline guidelines currently are. One thing to note is that even if you find that a trampoline is not a concern to your current carrier, it’s always possible that they could revise their rules later or you could desire to switch insurance companies and be limited to fewer options to choose from because of your trampoline.
If you are considering buying a trampoline for your children, it is a good idea to first contact your insurance agent or carrier and find out if this will create any issues for your current Homeowners insurance. If you do go ahead with the purchase, many experts strongly suggest installing:
Further, if you are in a neighborhood with other children present, we strongly encourage you to think how you are going to avoid other kids using the trampoline when you aren’t there to supervise. Such use is simply an accident waiting to happen – one which you will likely be responsible for. While we rarely see people in our area build fences around their trampoline, a sufficient fence might be your only option to detour unintended use.
Once the trampoline is installed with all safety enhancements in place, it’s a good idea to review recommended safety precautions to further reduce the likelihood that someone will get hurt. Here are links to suggestions by Nationwide Insurance, spineuniverse.com and trampoline.com.
No matter how safe you try to make it, owning a trampoline increases your risk of someone getting injured on your property – and it could be someone you love. So it’s a good idea to think it through carefully before making the decision to buy one.
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.