While trampolines are undeniably fun, the number of people injured each year in trampoline accidents -- whether through attempting a dangerous trick, or by colliding with another jumper -- is pretty eye-opening. Not only can these kinds of injuries be serious, they can be costly as well, and many insurance companies do not want to foot the bill. Because of this, some homeowner's insurance policies do not cover trampoline-related mishaps. In this article, we'll discuss some common issues that crop up when it comes to homeowner's insurance claims and trampoline injuries.
(For the legal basics on these kinds of cases, check out our article Who is Liable for Trampoline Injuries?)
Whether or not your homeowner's insurance covers your trampoline depends on the specific language of your policy. Chances are the terms fall into one of these categories:
If it is like many policies, your homeowner's coverage likely excludes trampolines and other bouncy toys, and your insurance carrier may cancel your policy if it discovers you have one in use on your property. This sometimes happens after a property inspection, or when your vindictive neighbor, tired of hearing joyous peals of laughter coming from your yard, reports you. In either case, getting a new policy can be hard, so it's a good idea to understand how trampolines and insurance work together before you install one out back.
Your homeowners' policy protects you by paying unexpected expenses that result from damage or destruction to your home, as well as when someone sues you. Your policy provides two types of coverage for these potential losses: hazard insurance and liability insurance.
Hazard Insurance. Hazard insurance covers damage to your home from things such as fire, smoke, and theft. Your insurance company calls these "first party" claims because you make a claim asking the company to reimburse you for a personal loss under the terms of your own insurance policy.
Liability Insurance. Liability insurance covers injury and property damage claims made by someone other than you or your family. Because someone other than a policyholder makes the claim, your insurance company calls these "third party" claims. (A common example is when a visitor makes a slip and fall claim after an incident occurs on your property.)
An injured person can rack up bills fast -- and if you are the one that caused the injury, you're probably going to be the one footing those bills. That's what makes homeowners' liability insurance so crucial. It covers things like medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering when someone gets hurt. If the injury leads to a lawsuit, not only does your liability insurance provide you with a lawyer, it will also pay any settlement or judgment.
Since trampoline accidents are common and have the potential to not only drain your assets, but force you into bankruptcy as well, protecting yourself with liability insurance makes sense. But that doesn't make coverage any easier to get.
Insurance companies aren't keen to provide insurance coverage for incidents related to trampolines because, simply put, these kinds of accidents cost insurance companies too much money. A lot of people get injured on trampolines -- including 98,000 children in 2009 alone according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And the resulting injuries can be pretty serious, everything to broken bones and head and spinal cord injuries. That makes the cost of defending a claim very expensive.
While you might be able to find insurance companies jumping to sell you a restriction-free policy, the reality is that those kinds of carriers are in the minority.
Here are the two typical ways you can expect insurance companies to handle trampolines:
No trampolines allowed. Many insurance companies "exclude" trampolines from their policies. This means that if you go ahead and get one anyway, the insurance company will not pay for any injuries connected with use of the trampoline.
Trampolines allowed as long as you follow safety requirements. Some insurance companies will cover your trampoline, and resulting injuries, as long as you abide by the safety precautions required by the policy. This might include sinking the trampoline so that the jumping surface is at ground level, or installing safety nets and pads around the perimeter.
It's a good idea to talk with an insurance agent before getting a trampoline. If you already have a policy, your agent should be able to help explain your existing coverage, and if not, help you select the kind of coverage that is right for your situation.