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7 Liabilities Lurking in Your Backyard
As a homeowner, you may pride yourself on making your backyard the ideal place for friends and family to hang out. There are many ways to have fun in your yard, from pools and treehouses to fire pits and barbecues. However, these amenities are also “attractive nuisances,” which means they can be a significant safety risk to children who find them irresistible. Attractive nuisances have serious liability risks you need to be aware of to protect yourself and others.
The Importance of Having Liability Insurance for Backyard Liabilities
With a little bit of time and creativity, you can transform your backyard into a fun, relaxing space for you, friends and family to spend time together. However, many things that make your backyard enjoyable can also pose a serious liability risk. For example, bodies of water like ponds or pools can be relaxing on hot summer days, though they may cost you damages in a lawsuit if someone gets hurt on your property.
Whether you’re protecting neighbors’ kids or your nieces and nephews, you’re responsible for taking specific precautions regarding your backyard liabilities. Some steps you could take include installing fences, secure gates or only allowing kids to play in your yard under adult supervision. While these preventive measures can keep dangerous incidents from happening, they likely won’t be enough to protect you against lawsuit damages.
Personal liability insurance helps protect you and your financial welfare when accidents happen on your property. Many people assume they don’t need liability insurance, only to regret not having coverage someday. These policies are crucial because they protect you and your assets against life’s unexpected circumstances. Despite taking all the necessary steps to safeguard others on your property, some backyard items pose more risk and are higher liabilities, which is why it’s essential to protect yourself with liability insurance.
Top 7 Backyard Liabilities
As we mentioned above, some parts of your backyard naturally pose a higher level of liability than others. To help better protect yourself and others, you need to understand the risks associated with these areas of your backyard and some tips for added safety.
Pools, especially with slides or diving boards, are one of the most common backyard liabilities. Kids love swimming and playing in the water, and they may feel tempted to do so without permission. Unsupervised use of the pool significantly increases the risk of injury or drowning.
To help decrease the risk of swimming pool liability, find ways to make it less accessible when not in use and only allow kids to swim under adult supervision. For example, you may build a fence around an in-ground pool, lock the gate, use a pool cover or remove the ladder from an above-ground pool. Some cities have local ordinances requiring pool fencing, though it’s best to take that precaution regardless.
Trampolines are popular among kids of all ages. Unfortunately, kids sustain around 90% of trampoline injuries. Without adequate safety precautions, trampolines are a hot spot for injuries. Trampolines are a significant liability and many insurance companies will ask if you have one on your property.
To help prevent unnecessary injuries and accidents and decrease the risk of trampoline liability, ensure your trampoline has netting around its perimeter. The mesh will help reduce the risk of kids or adults jumping or falling off the trampoline. Another smart precaution is removing ladders or steps to get on the trampoline when it’s not in use or you can’t supervise. Doing so makes the trampoline less accessible.
3. Play Equipment
During the summer season, backyard play sets provide effective entertainment and fun for kids. Most playground injuries occur at home, so you’re likely at high risk for play set liability. Many kids get hurt on equipment like swings, monkey bars and slides, commonly resulting in fractures and broken bones. If this occurs on your property, you could face a costly lawsuit.
To help reduce the risks associated with play equipment, always supervise kids using the play set. Installing protective surfacing like sand, mulch or safety-tested rubber can help lessen the blow if someone falls. You should also be cautious of sun exposure on the equipment, as play sets can quickly heat up in the sun and burn a child’s bare skin.
4. Fire Pits
Fire pits and other outdoor open-flame heaters allow you to use your outdoor space after dark and long into the fall, though they pose burn risks. When you have the fire lit, keep a close watch on children to ensure they maintain a safe distance from the flame. Discourage kids from sitting or standing on fire pit rings to help prevent them from falling in.
Even after the fire dies, the coals, ashes and embers can stay hot for hours. Consider covering the pit or fencing it off to prevent wandering or curious kids from finding it while it’s still hot.
Barbecues and cookouts are a popular way for people to entertain and spend time with friends and family. Though there’s the promise of good food, there’s always a risk of grill fires. Malfunctioning gas grills can spark fires, resulting in severe injuries and property damage. If one of your guests gets hurt in a barbecue mishap, you could be responsible for their medical bills.
Be sure to keep your grills and outdoor cooking units serviced, clean and updated to prevent malfunctions. Also, be sure to limit the number of people standing around or near the grill when it’s in use.
Kids enjoy having forts and hideouts like treehouses where they can use their imagination. Despite being lots of fun, treehouses are also quite risky. Depending on how high off the ground it is and how kids climb up and down, there’s a significant risk of falls. The treehouse’s age and the materials used to build it are also areas of concern. If the materials are old and rotting, there’s a higher risk of injury.
Take precautions to help reduce treehouse liability. For example, remove ladders to prevent kids from using the treehouse unsupervised.
7. Skateboard Ramps
Most skateboard ramps are for adults and older kids with skateboarding experience. Skateboard ramp liability is significantly higher if kids and unauthorized users can easily access the ramps without supervision. Consider installing fencing around permanent ramps or removing them when not in use.
Protect Yourself from Backyard Liabilities With XINSURANCE
Whether you have one or several of these backyard liabilities, you should protect yourself with specialized personal liability insurance. Many homeowners policies have gaps or fail to cover attractive nuisances, leaving you fully responsible for paying lawsuit damages out of pocket if incidents occur on your property.
Contact us to start a liability policy today to protect your financial assets and the welfare of curious kids.
Rick J. Lindsey hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. He began working in the mailroom of his father’s Salt Lake City insurance firm, getting his introduction to the business that became his lifelong career. Rick J. Lindsey quickly rose through the ranks while working in nearly every imaginable insurance industry job. As an entrepreneur, specialty lines underwriter, claims specialist, risk manager, and a licensed surplus lines broker, Rick J. Lindsey is highly skilled in all levels of leadership and execution. As he progressed on his career path, Rick J. Lindsey discovered an urgent need for insurers willing to write policies for high-risk individuals and businesses. He was frequently frustrated that he could not provide the liability protection these entities desperately needed to safeguard their assets. He also formed the belief that insurance companies acted too quickly to settle frivolous claims. Rick J. Lindsey decided to try a different approach. He started an insurance company and became the newly formed entity’s CEO. This opportunity has enabled Rick J. Lindsey to fill a void in the market and provide a valuable service to businesses, individuals, and insurance agents who write high-risk business. XINSURANCE also specializes in helping individuals and businesses who live a lifestyle or participate in activities that make them difficult for traditional carriers to insure. If you’ve been denied, non-renewed, or canceled coverage, don’t give up quite yet. Chances are XINSURANCE can help.