Buying a Backyard Trampoline? Here’s How It’ll Affect Your Home Insurance
If your kids are bouncing off the walls from being stuck inside, you may be thinking of buying a trampoline. Better they bounce around in the backyard, right?
With most children out of school for nearly two months and many summer camps being cancelled, a lot of parents have the same idea.
Steve Holmes, the co-founder of Springfree Trampoline, told NPR that sales are up 300% compared with a year ago. Many trampolines on Amazon are backordered until June or July.
But not surprisingly, homeowner insurance companies aren’t too fond of trampolines because they’re responsible for a lot of injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports more than 1 million trampoline-related emergency room visits between 2002 and 2011, the vast majority for children under 17. One third of injuries involved broken bones, while 1 in 200 resulted in permanent neurological damage.
Here’s how a trampoline could affect your policy.
When Is Your Trampoline Covered by Home Insurance?
The first thing to know about trampolines and insurance is that if you, your child or anyone who lives in your household gets injured, your health insurance is responsible. If you don’t have health insurance, you could be left with a big medical bill that you have to pay out of pocket.
Your homeowner insurance kicks in when someone outside your household gets injured. For example, let’s say your child’s friend gets hurt. The property insurance company could have to pay out for medical bills and/or a lawsuit.
The way trampolines are covered by a home insurance policy varies widely by company, according to R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner and former licensed insurance agent who founded the personal finance website The Ways to Wealth.
“Some insurance companies will exclude any incidents related to having a trampoline,” Weiss said. “Others may allow trampolines only if there is protective netting. Others may not mention a trampoline specifically in the policy, and therefore, you can assume it’s covered.”
Many policies exclude you from having a trampoline all together.
“If your policy excludes you from having a trampoline, your insurance company has the right to cancel your policy,” Weiss said. “Other companies will non-renew your policy, which means not allowing you to extend the policy once the current term is over. This is often the case when an insurance company’s underwriting team doesn’t care for trampolines but doesn’t explicitly exclude them.”
If you rent your home, it’s going to be tough to find a renters policy that covers trampolines.
“Typically, renters policies do not offer liability coverage for trampoline-related accidents,” said Virginia Hamill, senior insurance analyst for FitSmallBusiness.com. “That doesn’t mean they can’t, but you’re probably going to have to shop around to find coverage.”
3 Rules to Follow if You’re Buying a Trampoline
Still determined to buy that trampoline? Here are three rules to live by.
1. Don’t Hide It From Your Insurer
The No. 1 rule to follow if you’re buying a trampoline: Tell your insurance company. Talk to them before you make the purchase so you understand all of the consequences.
“While you’ll likely see a premium increase, if you fail to tell your insurance company, they may have the right to cancel your policy,” Weiss said.
If your policy is canceled, it could hurt your insurance score, which is a number insurers use to determine how risky you are to cover. That could make it more difficult and more expensive to get insurance in the future, according to Weiss.
2. Increase Your Liability Coverage
You need to increase your liability coverage if you buy a trampoline.
“If a life-altering injury were to happen to my guest, then the cost would [be] far beyond my means — especially if the injured guest is a child,” Hamill said.
Provided that your insurance company doesn’t exclude trampolines, you may be able to do this with a personal umbrella policy, which kicks in after the limits of the underlying policy are reached. For example, if you have a homeowner policy with a $300,000 liability limit, adding a $1 million umbrella policy would give you $1.3 million worth of liability coverage.
“You can usually get an additional $1 million in coverage for around $100 (annually),” Hamill said. “Whether or not that’s enough to cover your exposure depends on a number of factors, such as the number of visitors you typically have and what safety precautions you take.”
Depending on your insurer, you may be able to increase the liability limit of an existing policy.
“An agent can help you compare the cost of increasing your homeowner’s liability coverage versus buying a personal umbrella policy and walk you through the different scenarios of how each can come into play,” Hamill said.
3. Spring for Extra Safety Features
You can’t afford to buy a trampoline unless you can afford the features needed to make your trampoline as safe as possible, including a safety net and a lock to prevent anyone from using it without your permission.
If you’ve never assembled a trampoline before, you may want to budget for someone with experience to do it. You could put your jumpers at risk if you make a mistake while putting it together.
Some things are worth the extra money. Your kids’ safety, along with the safety of any child on your property, is among them.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to her at [email protected]