trampolines and homeowners insurance: are you covered?

They offer great outdoor entertainment (and exercise) value, but owning a trampoline could create some unwanted issues with your homeowners insurance company.

does homeowners insurance cover trampolines?

Let's face it. Trampolines are awesome, and they are a great incentive for the kids to get out of the house and bounce around in the sun. But before you oblige your begging child with a new human launching pad, you should know that trampolines may not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy.

Some homeowners insurance companies, like Esurance, may provide coverage if you enclose the trampoline with a fence that has a self-closing, self-latching gate. But if the trampoline isn't deemed safe, or if the requirements aren't met, your homeowners policy may be cancelled. If your policy excludes trampolines altogether, purchasing one could also lead to coverage cancellation.

Trampolines are considered an "attractive nuisance" — as they evoke a promising fun factor, while creating heightened risks. As invigorating as they can be, they can pose a significant safety hazard. According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, nearly 250,000 trampoline injuries occur every year. Of these injuries, about 186,000 are among children 14 years old or younger.

If you're ever unsure about what's included in your home insurance policy, it's important that you speak with a licensed agent to ensure you're adequately protected.

How different home insurers view trampolines

Many insurers don't cover trampolines because of the high potential for injuries associated with them. That means you could be held liable for any resulting accidents, even if someone is on your property without your knowledge. So should the kid next door furtively practice her tumbling routine, fumble the dismount, and sustain a serious injury — the costs could fall on you.

In some cases, an insurance company may offer a trampoline exclusion provision — meaning if someone sustains an injury, you would automatically have to pay the medical bills out-of-pocket. If your company happens to be OK with the trampoline, you should find out if there are any specific requirements in place, such as trampoline safety pads or netting.

Remember, if you find a home insurer that does cover trampolines, you may end up paying more for your policy — attractive nuisances can lead to an increase in your homeowners insurance rates.

If you're unsure what your policy does or doesn't cover, you should contact your specific insurer as coverage can vary significantly. If you're an Esurance policyholder, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262), where we're available at these times for any of your home insurance queries.

5 trampoline safety tips

While trampolines are often at odds with homeowners insurance companies, there are many measures you can take to reduce the risk of serious injuries, and, thereby prevent liability costs. Here are some trampoline safety rules you may want to consider.

1. Use trampoline safety pads and lower the jumping surface

Ensure the supporting bars, strings, and surrounding frame are sufficiently covered with padding to prevent bumping heads. Many injuries stem from falling off the trampoline, so be sure to lower the jumping surface to ground level.

2. Use a trampoline safety net

Use netting that encloses the entire perimeter of the trampoline. It should be noted, however, that the netting itself should never substitute adult supervision, nor will it reduce injuries on the actual trampoline.

3. Prohibit high-risk maneuvers

Acrobatics and somersaults should be avoided without proper supervision and protective gear. Likewise, horseplay or backyard wrestling maneuvers mean you're only asking for trouble.

4. Implement a one-at-a-time rule

To maximize safety, only one kid at a time should be allowed to jump around on the trampoline. In fact, many emergency room injuries are the result of 2 jumpers colliding into each other.

5. Read the instruction manual

Not only is it important to follow instructions when assembling the trampoline, there may be maximum weight limits, or specific directions on how to properly piece together the frame.

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