Nothing says summer more than backyard barbecues, entertaining friends, hot weather and family adventures.
And for those looking to make summer even more fun, installing an above-ground or in-ground pool is a necessity – as long as you do it right.
Pools may conjure up images of lying on a floating recliner with a cold drink, but homeowners should remember that pools are a lot of work and responsibility. Pools require the right mix of chemicals to keep the water clean, filtration systems, and almost daily maintenance. Your town or city most likely has regulations about pools that may include installing safety fencing and other measures.
A pool may also affect your homeowners insurance coverage and pricing too. Here are the basics you need to know when installing the pool:
Decide on the right type of pool
Before buying a pool, carefully consider the type and size of the pool you want. An above-ground pool is less expensive and easier to maintain but an in-ground pool offers more depth and may be better suited for the serious backyard entertainer.
There’s also the cost of water and maintenance to consider. The basic rule of thumb is simple: The bigger the pool, the more expensive it is to maintain.
In most cases, a pool will cost several hundred dollars per year to run and maintain and larger pools may cost more. Do the math on the cost of pool chemicals, electricity usage to power the pumps, water to keep it at level, pool opening and closing costs, and gas or propane charges if you plan to heat it. Your pool dealer may be able to give you insight but you’ll most likely get a better idea if you talk to neighbors or friends who have a similar size pool as the one you’d like to install.
Know your town requirements
The Insurance Information Institute (III) says that once you’ve decided on the type of pool you want you’ll need to contact your town or municipality, which may define pools based on size and water depth.
Ensure that that your pool meets safety standards and building codes, including fences, locks and other equipment, according to III. Even if you’re handy and want to install the pool yourself, your town may require hiring a qualified electrician to ensure the pool is properly grounded for electrical problems. A building inspector may need to inspect it before you take your first swim.
Homeowners insurance and liability
Like trampolines, pools are considered a liability, says ValuePenguin. About 30 percent of all deaths in children ages 1 to 4 are from drowning, and most of these occur in home swimming pools, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Depending on the type of pool you install, these liability risks can increase homeowners insurance premiums. The III says homeowners installing a pool should contact their insurance company to understand and enhance their coverage.
“Pools are considered an ‘attractive nuisance’ and it may be advisable to purchase additional liability insurance,” according to the III. “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.”
An umbrella insurance policy can offer additional protection. III estimates that a $1 million liability protection policy will cost an additional $200 to $300 per year.
Finally, be sure that your pool is covered in case of a natural disaster. In most cases, 10 percent of your homeowners coverage is available for detached structures, according to TheNest.com. This means you may need additional coverage if your pool and other detached structures are worth more than 10 percent of your home (which be $25,000 for a $250,000 house).
Your insurance company may also have some rules that may or may not be covered by your town regulations. For instance, many insurance companies forbid diving boards and slides because the liability is too great.
Your insurance agent should guide you through the process of making sure you are adequately protected.
Use your common sense
Ultimately, pool safety is up to the homeowner. Keep your pool and safety equipment well maintained, hire professionals if needed, and keep a close eye on children. The III and CDC offer additional safety tips for pool owners:
- A responsible adult should always be at the pool in case help is needed.
- Even if your town or insurance company does not require fencing, consider installing it anyway, especially if you have young children or other neighborhood kids who could wander into your yard. Barriers such as pool stair locks, alarms, and safety covers also offer some protection. Keep floats and toys out of the pool as they may attract young children toward the pool.
- Never leave young children unsupervised, even for a minute.
- Keep children away from pool filters and mechanical devices. In case of emergency, know how to shut off the pool and cut electricity to it.
- Be sure children know how to swim. No one should ever swim alone.
- Keep electrical equipment like radios and electrical devices away from the pool.
- Know the weather forecast and never swim during rain or lightning storms.
- Never dive into an above-ground pool and ensure that the depth of your in-ground pool is safe enough before plunging in.
- Keep emergency numbers handy, along with first aid kids, reaching poles and/or safety buoys.
- Take a CPR course so you know how to respond in case of an accident.
- Younger and less experienced swimmers can benefit from U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets.
For NY and PA pool owners, give an InsuraMatch agent a call to learn more about the homeowners coverage you may need for this summer pool season at 855.244.7671.