Trampolines bounce up homeowner's insurance claims

Linda Melone

Kids can spend hours bouncing up and down on a trampoline -- it's fun and it's great exercise. However, all of that fun can be erased if someone gets hurt and you have to file a homeowner's insurance claim.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cites nearly 92,000 emergency room visits each year for trampoline-related accidents. More than 75,000 of those injuries involved children under age 15, commission spokeswoman Patty Davis says.

Most injuries that occur on trampolines involve colliding with another person on the trampoline, landing improperly while doing jumps or stunts, or falling or jumping off the trampoline, according to the commission.

From a home insurance perspective, trampolines are trouble. They're considered an "attractive nuisance" -- something that's likely to attract children and could pose an injury risk, says Kevin Lynch, assistant professor of insurance at The American College in Pennsylvania. Among other "attractive nuisances" are tools, swimming pools and abandoned refrigerators.

Are you covered?

Most major home insurers don't offer coverage for trampolines "at any price," Lynch says. Some insurers will sell coverage if the trampoline features a safety net, he says.

Some insurers will exclude a trampoline from a homeowner's insurance policy, some will not write a policy at all if they're aware that you have a trampoline and others will charge more for coverage that includes a trampoline, says Robert Ryan Jr., president of Ryan & Ryan Insurance Brokers Inc. in New York. "Each carrier handles it differently," he says.

Because it's considered an "attractive nuisance," even if you did not allow a child to play on your property, you still can be held liable if that child trespassed onto your property, jumped on your trampoline and injured himself, Lynch says.

If you haven't told your insurer about your trampoline, you still may be covered if someone is injured on it, says Kevin Foley, owner of PFT&K Insurance Brokers in New Jersey. The medical payments portion of your policy would cover some or all treatment costs, he says, while the personal liability portion of your policy would help you pay for court costs related to a lawsuit.

However, once your insurer receives a trampoline-related claim, your homeowner's policy may very well be canceled, according to Foley.

Jump at extra coverage

Your best bet if you own a trampoline: Buy extra coverage.

Lynch recommends buying an extra layer of liability coverage known as an umbrella liability policy if you own a backyard trampoline; that'll provide protection worth $1 million to $5 million. "Trampolines simply represent a higher risk of liability compared with a home without them," he says.

Personal liability coverage on a standard home insurance policy usually totals $300,000, says David Miller, CEO of Brightway Insurance in Florida.

Lynch's best advice for staying out of trampoline trouble: "Don't have a trampoline on your property."

Tips for safe trampoline use

If you decide it's worth the risk to own a trampoline, make sure it's at least in a locked, fenced yard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. "Install safety netting on the trampoline and do not allow your children to use this sports equipment without parental supervision," Lynch says.

The commission recommends these tips to prevent trampoline tragedies:

  • Allow only one person on a trampoline at a time.
  • Do not use the trampoline without shock-absorbing pads that completely cover the springs, hooks and frame.
  • Avoid performing somersaults, which can lead to head and neck injuries.
  • Keep the trampoline away from other structures, trees and play areas.
  • Do not use a ladder with the trampoline, as it provides easy, unsupervised access by small children.
  • Do not allow any child under age 6 to use a full-size trampoline.

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