Backyard Fun (and Accidents) May Not Always be Covered Under a Homeowners Insurance Policy

Accidents in the Backyard May not be CoveredWith shows like “Treehouse Masters” amassing popularity in American culture, many adults are turning the backyard into the playground of their fantasies. Treehouses and trampolines are ever-popular with children and adults. While putting a trampoline in the backyard may seem like a great idea to get the kids out of the house, adults may want to think twice before investing in them. Your homeowners insurance policy may not provide coverage for injuries that result from the use of trampolines or treehouses. Make sure that you discuss coverage options with your insurance agent before you spend thousands of dollars on a new trampoline or treehouse.

About three percent of all American households have a trampoline. Insurance corporations spend over $280 million to provide treatment for those who suffer injuries on trampolines. Because of these statistics, homeowners are facing greater difficulty in securing insurance coverage for trampolines at affordable rates.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage Types

You should carefully review your homeowners insurance policy to see whether it contains no exclusions, coverage with safety precautions or a trampoline exclusion. An insurance policy with no exclusions means that your policy may provide coverage for trampoline ownership. You should still make sure that you clarify the terms of your insurance policy with an agent. A policy that includes coverage with safety precautions means that you must use a net enclosure or fence to protect individuals jumping on the trampoline. Your policy may also require that you limit the number of people who use the trampoline and also maintain weight limits. The policy may also require that you supervise individuals jumping on the trampoline.

If your insurance policy seems vague or does not expressly contain a clause addressing trampolines, you may want to speak with an insurance agent to add a “trampoline clause” to the policy. Adding the clause can provide you with peace of mind and may not cost anything if you already have coverage for it. If you do not have coverage for trampolines in your policy, an insurance agent may revise your policy and increase its cost. You should not have to find out the hard way if you have coverage for trampolines in your insurance policy. You could end up being liable for thousands of dollars to cover the cost of injuries of an individual harmed on your trampoline.

Tree House Guidelines

Many insurance policies do not consider liability in the event that a homeowner owns a treehouse in the backyard. Because treehouses are less common than trampolines, you may need to speak with your insurance agent to determine whether you have coverage for treehouses. If your policy expressly provides coverage for “high-risk” items, then your treehouse may or may not be covered under the policy.

Are Treehouses and Trampolines Considered an “Attractive Nuisance?”

Under negligence law, the “attractive nuisance” doctrine maintains that an owner of property may be liable for the injuries of a child lured onto one’s property by an “artificial condition.” An artificial condition is typically any physical structure that seems attractive to children for playing games or meeting up with one another.

The owner of the property must know or have reason to know of the existence of the artificial condition. In the case of a treehouse or trampoline, the owner typically always has knowledge of its existence on his or her property. The child must also be unable to appreciate the risk posed by the artificial condition. It could be arguable whether a child would realize the danger posed by a treehouse or trampoline. A small child may not realize that he or she can fall off of a trampoline if other large children are jumping on it. A young child may also underestimate his or her ability to jump from the height of a treehouse.

Before an owner installs a trampoline or treehouse, he or she should understand that children in the neighborhood may use the structures in evening hours or while the owner is away. The owner should be aware that he or she could be liable in the event that a trespassing child becomes injured in using these structures.

Take Caution When Installing a Treehouse or Trampoline in Your Backyard

While trampolines and treehouses can provide years of joy and fun for a family, homeowners need to consider the liability risks that these structures pose. A homeowner may find that it simply is not worth the risk to install these structures in a backyard. If a homeowner still proceeds with installation of a treehouse or structure, he or she may also need to install fencing, netting and ladders for the structures.