If you want to make your kids happy by buying them a trampoline for the backyard, think again. It's not just a matter of setting up a new piece of play equipment. Your home insurance company likely will have something to say about it.
Home insurance provides liability coverage, and trampolines pose a risk to the safety of others. The more than 1 million emergency department visits from 2002 to 2011 related to trampoline injuries are a case in point. Injuries cost insurance companies money — payments they try to avoid.
Insurance is all about assessing risk. Depending on how big the risk, your insurance company may either increase the premium rate you pay or decide not to insure your home at all.
Trampolines are fun, but they're also dangerous. Children can fall off the trampoline and get hurt — sometimes seriously. The concern doesn't just involve your own children but extends to their friends and other children in the neighborhood too, even if they come onto your property uninvited.
A trampoline tends to attract children, and that makes you responsible for their safety whether or not they have your permission to be there. Setting up a trampoline in your backyard is risky business for you and your home insurance company.
Dangers of Trampolines
Kids love to play on bouncy surfaces, which can be dangerous for younger children in particular. Neither coordination nor bones are yet fully developed in children under six years of age. That's not a good combination when you have a bunch of kids on a trampoline bouncing high.
Another factor that contributes to injuries is padding that wears out. The nets don't provide a whole lot of safety either. They may keep kids from falling off the trampoline to the ground, but they don't prevent injuries from occurring on the trampoline.
Insurers vary in how they handle the issue. If you go with a new insurer, the company may agree to insure your home but add a trampoline exclusion in the policy. That makes you, not the insurer, completely responsible for any mishaps.
Some insurers will insure your home, including coverage for a trampoline, if the trampoline is enclosed on all sides with a safety net or if your yard is fenced in. The insurance company may add a surcharge, or extra amount, to your policy premium.
However, all insurance companies aren't created equal. Even if you're willing to pay extra for the coverage, an insurance company may deny you a home insurance policy if you own a trampoline.
When it comes to an existing home insurance policy, your insurer can cancel or refuse to renew your policy when you set up a trampoline. But even if your insurer decides to drop your coverage, state laws generally require that the insurance company notify you several weeks before the policy is due to expire. The company must also give you a reason for refusing you coverage.
Just because your insurer is willing to underwrite a home insurance policy with a trampoline on the premises doesn't mean you shouldn't take steps to reduce the risk of injuries. Unfortunately, even adult supervision isn't always enough.
Place the trampoline on soft ground, like sand or bark, not on a hard surface, such as concrete or asphalt. Inspect the trampoline mat and supporting bars regularly for damage. Make certain the springs are covered with adequate padding.
Pay attention to the trampoline manufacturer's maximum weight limit, and allow only one child at a time to jump on the trampoline. Forbid children to perform acrobatics and other high-risk maneuvers.
If you have a trampoline on your property but aren't sure if you're protected in the event someone is injured, talk to the insurance agents at Insurance Designers to learn more about your coverage options.