An attractive nuisance is anything on your property that someone, usually a minor, might see as fun, but that can also cause serious injuries. Depending on the laws in your area, you can be held responsible for those injuries﹘sometimes even if the person injured was trespassing on your property. The increased risk makes understanding what an attractive nuisance is an important part of protecting your home and the individuals who come on your property.
After all, you probably want to keep your pool or tree house, so you need to know how you can minimize the chance of someone getting hurt. You also have to consider how the extra risk might impact your homeowners' insurance. In some cases, your premiums may go up. Worse? Some insurance companies don’t insure homes with certain attractive nuisances. Yours may even choose not to renew your policy if you add a feature it doesn’t insure.
Examples of attractive nuisances
Here are some common attractive nuisances and what makes them dangerous.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the US sees nearly 4,000 fatal drownings every year, so swimming pools and hot tubs are some of the biggest concerns for homeowners and insurance companies. Fatal drownings aren’t the only worry, either. A person can hit their head on a diving board or fall off a slide. This is why many insurance companies and city codes require fences and gates around pools.
Jumping on a trampoline is a ton of fun, but it can also be risky. A study from the Academy of American Pediatrics identified over 1 million trampoline-related injuries in a 10-year period. A third of those injuries were broken bones. That’s not surprising once you think of all the ways someone can get hurt on a trampoline. Not only can they lose their balance or step on a spring and get hurt, but the entire contraption can flip over or malfunction. And isn’t there always at least one person who wants to do somersaults and backflips? They’re just as likely to hurt someone else as they are themselves.
With so many risks, it's little wonder that owning a trampoline can affect your home insurance.
Tree houses are often ten to fifteen feet in the air, which increases the chance that a fall will cause a serious injury. The risk for injury increases if the ground below has a hard surface. Moreover, tree houses are rarely built to any sort of building code standards, so there’s seldom any weight limit. If a group of kids flock to a tree house, there’s no telling at what point the structure may collapse.
Data from the CDC shows that more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 visit emergency rooms for playground-related injuries, so you always need to make sure children at your home are playing on playground equipment safely. Even under the best of circumstances, kids can fall or get hurt on playground equipment. You can also reduce the likelihood of injury if you have a soft surface under your equipment.
People can drown in just a few inches of water, so something that seems relatively safe, like a fish pond, can actually present a real risk. A child might lean over to see the fish, fall in, and hit their head. Like swimming pools, it’s best to keep fish ponds behind fencing and enclosed areas to limit access to it.
You might not think of a construction area as attractive at all, children love exploring them and playing with any tools left lying around. If you’re in the middle of a project, make sure you put away your tools and unplug power tools even if you’re only stepping away for a moment. You don’t want a child to get their hands on a plugged in nail gun.
Children are curious about weapons, especially guns. Most will pick up a gun or other weapon if they have the chance, and it takes just one unfortunate day for disaster to strike. Any weapons in your house should be under lock and key. If you have a gun, keep it unloaded and store the ammunition in a separate location. Display guns need to be unloaded and secured to the wall.
Attractive nuisances and homeowners insurance
Homeowners insurance doesn’t change the risk of any attractive nuisance, but it can reduce your financial exposure. The protection is found in your personal liability coverage that helps to pay costs if you’re found responsible for someone else’s property damage or physical injury.
Most policies have at least $100,000 in personal liability coverage. However, you may want more if you have an attractive nuisance on your property. Increasing your liability coverage usually doesn’t cause a substantial increase in your premiums, and the additional protection is often well worth the extra cost.
Not every insurance company insures every attractive nuisance. Those that do, may impose safety restrictions before they’ll insure it. This might include putting a gate around your pool and removing the diving board or buying a certain type of gun safe. An underwriter may actually come out to check that you’re following these safety restrictions.
You may also want to check with your insurer before you add a feature that might be considered an attractive nuisance. You’re better off finding out if your policy covers your new pool before you install it.