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Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

Let’s talk about the insurance responsibilities that go along with these summer-fun things.

Attractive nuisance

Attractive nuisance may sound insulting, but it’s an important term to understand. It’s a legal doctrine that applies when you have something on your property that could attract children, and that thing is potentially dangerous.

Here’s an example: You have a rope swing in the backyard for your grandchildren to use. It can be seen by the neighbor kids.

Kids, being kids, just can’t help themselves, and they periodically sneak over to swing on it. It practically says, “hey kids, come swing on me!”

Because it attracts them, and they can get hurt by swinging on it, under the law it’s considered an attractive nuisance. And you can be held liable for their injuries, even if they trespassed to play on it.

Pools, tree houses, and trampolines are also considered attractive nuisances.

Pools

The first rule of swimming pools is to make sure you tell your insurance agent that you have one. You should preferably tell them before you get one. This applies to above-ground pools as well.

Second, you need to make the pool is as safe as possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000 people a year drown in pools in the United States.

Many more are injured. There are safety steps your insurance company expects you to take, which may include:

  • Having proper safety equipment
  • Having a pool cover
  • Posting a sign
  • Having a fence around the pool

Every insurance company will want to inspect the pool as well. They may have additional requirements before committing to covering the risk. Failure to be upfront with the insurer could nullify your policy.

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Tree houses

We all remember how fun it was growing up and playing in someone’s tree house. It may have been just a sheet of plywood a few feet off the ground in a small tree, or something more elaborate.

But we also remember our parents yelling out... “Be careful up there!”

Tree houses are an additional risk, and something that should be discussed with your insurance agent. Do it before someone falls out of it.

Trampolines

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that trampolines can be an insurance problem. But it is a surprise for many homeowners... and often they find that out when a claim is denied, or a policy cancelled.

Never get a trampoline without first talking to your insurance agent.

Trampolines send over 100,000 people a year to the emergency room, and over 4,000 per year are hospitalized or killed by them, according to a famous study in 2006 by the Consumer Product Safety Review.

Many insurance companies (not all of them) will refuse coverage to you if you have a trampoline.

My advice:

First, if you have one of these attractive nuisances, please call your agent to discuss the unique risks, and solutions that may be offered.

Second, it’s possible that you will need higher liability coverage if you have one of these summer-fun experiences in your yard. You may be surprised at how affordable it is to increase your liability coverage.

Call your agent now. If you don’t have a local insurance agent, feel free to contact me.

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Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or bruces@sackifs.com.

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