Your backyard is an outdoor living space, and a playground for adults and their kids. You might think about updating it to make it more comfortable, whether you've lived there a while or you're a new homeowner. Common additions include lounge furniture, fire pits, string lights, and outdoor entertainment elements like wired or wireless speakers and televisions.
Finding out if insurance will cover your investment is crucial with so much money being spent on outdoor upgrades. Home insurance often has special policy limits on outdoor toys, or special needs for swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs. Here's what you need to know to help you get the most out of your home insurance. You'll want to make sure that your pools, outdoor furniture, and backyard upgrades are properly insured.
- Make sure your pools, outdoor furniture, and backyard upgrades are insured right to get the most out of your home insurance.
- You'll want to make sure that you have enough coverage for the additions you're making if the value is more than a few thousand dollars.
- You should be aware of all the ways you need to be safe and protected if the items you're adding come with liability concerns or issues.
- Call your insurer to discuss options for other items that may have liability issues.
When to Tell Your Homeowner's Insurance Company
Keep two guidelines in mind when letting your insurer know about backyard improvements. You'll want to make sure that you have enough coverage for the additions you're making if the value is more than a few thousand dollars. And you should be aware of all the ways you need to be safe if the items you're adding come with liability concerns.
Be sure to ask what perils your backyard items are insured for. Some policies may not insure damage due to wind and hail, while others might. These become key factors in choosing the right policy when you've put money into an outdoor living area. The coverage may vary based on the type of item as well. Ask whether your insurance covers replacement cost or actual cash value.
What Items Need Extra Liability Insurance?
Some backyard items have greater liability risks. They may or may not be covered if you file an claim. You'll have to know how a spa affects your insurance if you have one. You should call your insurance company to discuss options if you have or are thinking of adding a swimming pool. The same goes for a hot tub, outdoor spa, trampoline, fire pit or treehouse. Outdoor playgrounds are a concern, too, as well as any other item that increases the risk of injury on your property.
It's vital to find out if your home coverage will still be valid after you've added any of these items. Contact your insurance company if you have any doubt. They can help you make sure you're covered.
Pool and Hot Tub Insurance Claims
There's a good chance you'll have to comply with local laws before you install a pool. Municipal regulations often address pool safety. Insurers look at the same kinds of safety factors. Check your local regulations for fence height and post requirements, as well as locks on gates or hot tubs, decks, or pool safety equipment.
You may be in compliance with what the insurer will require if you meet local regulations. But the insurance underwriting may require extra safety features or precautions. Always contact your insurer to let them know about your plans and to get guidance.
Home insurance policies may automatically cover an in-ground pool, or they may require that an extra endorsement be added.
There were about 10.4 million swimming pools and 7.3 million hot tubs in use in the U.S. in 2021.
Some insurers tag above-ground pools as personal property. Others require that you add an endorsement. You must list it on the policy or it won't be covered if your insurer says your pool is an "external structure." Contact your provider to understand what coverage is available to you.
Seven Questions When Insuring a Pool, Hot Tub, or Spa
Ask seven key questions to make sure you understand the exclusions and limitations of your coverage.
- What kind of coverage is included in the policy? Should you add an endorsement for physical damage to the pool, spa, or hot tub?
- Can you increase your liability limit on your policy?
- Is it okay to have a diving board or slide?
- Is the coverage on the pool, hot tub, or spa for open perils or named perils? Are there other exclusions?
- What kind of fence do you need? Are there any criteria to height or distance between fence posts? Does the fence have to be self-closing or have self-latching gates?
- Does the pool, spa, or hot tub need to be covered or locked when it's not in use?
- Are there requirements for suction drain covers to prevent suction entrapment?
Some insurers won't insure or will exclude pools with slides and/or diving boards. Always ask to make sure your company will cover you.
How to Insure Decks, Treehouses, and Landscaping
Treehouses, decks, sheds, and other outdoor structures are covered under a policy as a percentage of the building amount. Items attached to the home such as a deck should be thought of as part of the reconstruction cost of your home.
Always contact your insurer before you add structures or extensions to your property, such as large decks for entertaining or outdoor living. You'll want to ask about the limits to make sure they'll cover your extra structures.
The coverage terms for landscaping differ between home insurers. You may have some basic protection up to a certain limit of the insured value of your home. A common limit is 5% of your insured dwelling value. A limit per item can also apply, such as $500 per tree, bush, or shrub.
You may be able to ask for an endorsement on your home policy to increase the limit per item if this isn't enough. Some policies will allow for higher limits on landscaping. Consult the declaration page of your policy or ask your representative to be sure.
You may not be aware that you need extra coverage. The policy wording for each company can differ. Your understanding of the "contents" of your home may not always line up with the insurer's definition. It's always a good idea to call your insurer if you've made a big investment in items.
A personal umbrella liability policy is also a good idea as an add-on to your insurance for a very reasonable cost. It can protect you from litigation and legal costs if you're sued even if you've added your pool, hot tub, or outdoor toys to your homeowner's insurance.
It will all line up in most cases, but it's always best to protect yourself when you're investing in your outdoor living space.