The basics of community pool insurance: what you need to know
Swimming pools are one of the most common and desirable amenities in managed communities. Your pool is an important feature for your residents that enhances their lifestyles daily, but do you have proper swimming pool coverage?
As a board member, ensuring your property has adequate swimming pool coverage is your fiduciary responsibility to your association. Unfortunately, pools can be an accident-prone area. In the event of an incident at your swimming pool, a lack of insurance, or a gap in your insurance coverage, can be devastating to your association’s budget.
What can happen if you don’t have the right insurance coverage for your community pool?
“Lawsuits, which may lead to special assessments and a loss of reputation for the community, are definitely a possibility when you’re talking about a lack of insurance for a pool,” explained Katherine Beltran, product manager at FS Insurance Brokers, a full-service, subsidiary, insurance brokerage which works exclusively with FirstService Residential-managed properties.
How can you make sure you are covered?
To make sure you're getting the best insurance coverage for your association, it's essential to consult with a professional and licensed broker or agent. Provide them with complete information about all areas of protection so they can provide an accurate assessment and ensure there is no gap in coverage.
Most insurance agents or brokers will make a site visit, but if they don’t, make sure to tell them:
The number of pools on your property
The size of each pool
Special pool features
Sean Kent, senior vice president of FS Insurance Brokers, stated that “Any special features around the pool, such as a waterslide or diving board, will increase the potential liability and can have an impact on an underwriter’s assessment, making it more costly for the policyholder,” Kent elaborated. “In fact, very few insurance carriers are willing to underwrite an association’s liability coverage if there is a diving board or slide at the pool.”
It’s important to note that any policy will require that your community abide by all federal, state, and local pool laws and ordinances, or your coverage can be invalidated. Some of these laws may include, but are not limited to:
The height and type of fencing used to surround the pool
Posted signage on the property
Available safety equipment
Staffing within the pool area.
Most policies will also have requirements about keeping the pool area clean and well-maintained, including water testing and chemical maintenance. Improper maintenance can also invalidate your insurance policies.
An association board should do its best to enforce the community’s rules to prevent greater potential liability, including whether alcohol consumption is permitted around the pool.
What kind of coverage do you need?
“Usually, your community pool is covered by your association’s general liability policy and general property policy,” Beltran said. “In general, a property policy covers any damage to the pool itself, and a liability policy covers any incidents at or around it.” Beltran recommends discussing an additional umbrella or excess liability policy with your insurance broker or agent. That policy may be necessary because of the increased risk associated with anything water related.
Suppose your community pool area has lifeguards and other staff. In that case, she also suggested adding an endorsement to the general liability policy to protect your association if someone is accused of improper conduct. Your broker or agent will know if that is a good idea.
Is insurance higher with a pool?
When adding a pool to a community or home, insurance premiums typically rise for a few reasons.
Additional risk: When installing a pool, it comes with an increased cost for insurance since the insurer now takes on additional risk. If something happens that requires repairs or replacement of the pool and their policy covers those costs, they need to be prepared financially. As such, there's a higher premium when coverage includes this type of structure at your property.
Increased liability: Pools can be a great feature in any community, but they also come with certain risks. A swimming pool means an increased chance of injuries occurring on the property and claims being brought against the association- not just for those who visit your premises, but even yourself! Therefore, having a pool included in your property insurance coverage will incur additional costs from the insurer due to its heightened liability exposure.
Sufficient coverage: Your coverage may need to be increased to cover all repairs, damages, or liabilities. To safeguard against unexpected costs in these scenarios, it is recommended that the association take out additional insurance coverage.
Are there any ways to lower your premiums?
Installing basic safety measures in and around your pool can help reduce premiums while keeping everyone safe.
Staff training: by having staff complete training for loss prevention, risk management, or CPR. Anything that can help staff be better prepared in an emergency may provide an opportunity for a discount, but only your licensed insurance agent or broker will know for sure.
Pool fence: Ensure a safe outdoor space and save on insurance premiums by installing a fence around your pool or patio area. Fences are an effective way to keep both people and animals out while simultaneously cutting back on costs.
Safety accessories: Implementing safety features is another way to reduce premium costs. Examples include a pool cover, proper area lighting, a non-slip surface, safety railings, and proper signage.
By taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can decrease the risk profile insurance companies see when evaluating your record - ultimately leading to lower premiums and more peace of mind.
Investing in the right insurance coverage can help ensure that everyone's favorite pool remains a valued feature of your community while protecting property values and budgets. Don't let it become an unwelcome risk management nightmare - get the coverage your association needs to keep residents swimming safely.
Not sure if your community has sufficient coverage? Reach out to one of our team members at FirstService Financial and see how we can support your insurance needs.