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Safety paramount in swimming pool season

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on July 8th, 2024

When temperatures rise, pools offer welcome relief.

But with that comes responsibility.

As a homeowner, you’re liable for everyone’s safety. You can be held responsible for any injuries – or deaths – that take place around your pool even if it’s someone whose trespassed on your property.

While drownings happen year round, 73 per cent of cases occur during the warmer months and 62.5 per cent of cases happen in residential or public swimming pools, according to Health Canada's database. The majority involve children under 9.

Injuries or drownings caused by a lack of supervision, security, proper maintenance or failure to comply with municipal bylaws, can lead to a lawsuit.

How a pool affects home insurance

It is important to remember that whether you are installing a pool or purchasing a home with one it will impact your insurance premiums. This applies to all types of pools, including above-ground and in-ground pools. There are two ways a pool affects your insurance:

  • It increases risk
  • It raises property value

It is important to speak with your insurance broker to adjust your coverage and policy so you have the right level of coverage. First, you will need to increase your limits to ensure they align with your home’s replacement value. Second, it’s a good idea to increase the personal liability portion of your policy so you are protected if someone is injured using your pool. If there is an accident, home insurance may cover it - up to a point - unless the homeowner is found to have been negligent.

Typically pool owners are required to purchase a separate insurance policy for swimming pool liability, or an umbrella policy for the home, which provides enough coverage for most accidents.

Some insurance companies provide riders designed specifically for swimming pools. These can offer additional coverage beyond the homeowner’s policy. It often protects against equipment breakdowns, damage to the pool structure and liability. You will also want to make sure you have adequate coverage if the pool causes damage to someone else’s property as a result of a leak or overflow.

If the pool becomes damaged by a peril covered in your home insurance policy, such as a fire or fallen tree, it may cover repair or replacement of the pool up to policy limits. Insurance typically won't cover damage from lack of maintenance or normal wear and tear.

Prevent accidents with these tips

Pools can be fun but they can also be dangerous. However, there are practical ways to take steps to prevent accidents. The Canadian Red Cross and other experts recommend:

  1. Build a fence (recommended at least 1.2 m in height, with gaps no larger than 10 cm) that has a self-closing and self-latching gate; keep the gate closed with restricted access at all times. Refer to your municipal bylaws for fencing requirements.
  2. Establish pool rules. These can include: no running, children must have an adult with them at all times, and no glass containers around the pool.
  3. Use personal flotation devices for children and anyone who is not experienced in the water.
  4. Have readily accessible reaching or throwing assists, a working phone and first aid kit.
  5. Do not use alcohol or drugs in or around the pool.
  6. Few backyard pools are safe for diving – swimmers should enter the water feet-first.
  7. Have an action plan including adult supervision, an emergency signal, safety equipment and emergency procedures.
  8. Small on-ground portable or kiddie pools should be emptied when not in use. Above-ground pools should have the ladder or steps removed when not in use.
  9. Use the Buddy System. No matter how old or experienced you are, if an accident occurs your are always safer if someone is there to act. Never swim alone, even if you are an adult. Only allow children to swim if an adult supervises them.
  10. Keep pool chemicals safely locked away and out of the reach of children.
  11. Avoid swimming at night and in stormy weather.
  12. Enroll your children in swimming lessons and improve your own skills to learn how to prevent drownings and make safe rescues by taking a Red Cross Swim Course.

RELATED READING:What's personal umbrella insurance? 

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