With the summer months and warm weather here, more people are heading outside to enjoy their backyards. It’s a good time to talk with your policyholders about their risks at home, especially if they have recently added a pool, trampoline, or outdoor game area to their yard. Read on for attractive nuisance examples and ways to raise the conversation with your policyholders.
Attractive Nuisance Examples and Challenges for Homeowners
Lots of people buy homes with plans to entertain friends and family members. And making the backyard fun and livable for kids and friends is often a top priority for new homeowners. But many of the fun things children enjoy, like pools and backyard trampolines, are examples of attractive nuisances.
The NAIC defines an attractive nuisance as “a dangerous condition that may attract children to a homeowner’s property and pose a safety risk.” Some courts define it as interesting items that could attract a child to trespass on the property.
Attractive nuisance examples may include:
- Swimming pools and fountains
- Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment
- Dangerous animals
- Wells and tunnels
- Machinery and maintenance items, like lawnmowers, scaffolding, and ladders
- Landscape elements, stairs, and pathways
These backyard items are common, but they can also be risky. Your policyholders likely understand the risks associated with swimming pools and probably have a fence around the pool as mandated by their insurance policy or community. But they may not understand the risks of trampolines, playground equipment, and other attractive nuisances in their backyards.
Attractive Nuisance Issues to Discuss With Policyholders
Talk with your policyholders at renewal and when selling a new policy to understand their exposures. Ask them to notify you if they add an attractive nuisance to their property — and explain it may raise their insurance rates. Some insurance companies won’t write certain nuisances, while others may exclude some risky features from coverage, like diving boards or water slides.
Remind your insureds to enclose any attractive nuisances on their property with a fence and locking gate. Fences won’t stop every determined child wishing to take a jump on the trampoline or a dip in the pool, but they are a deterrent. Many insurers require fences around attractive nuisances before writing coverage.
Policyholders can add a no-trespassing sign and actively enforce it if they see children (or anyone) on the property. It should be obvious, but make sure policyholders follow local laws and guidelines when adding attractive nuisances and protecting children from them.
You can also advise policyholders to take more precautions than required by law. If something does happen, listing the proactive steps a homeowner has taken to prevent injury can be helpful. This could include installing an alarm system and motion-activated lights, having pool rescue equipment available, keeping general first-aid items on hand, and cleaning up trip hazards and chemicals regularly.
Discuss coverage limits, conditions, and exclusions at each renewal and whenever your policyholder makes a change. Make sure they have sufficient liability limits and consider recommending an umbrella policy. Document your coverage recommendations and have your insureds sign coverage declinations for the file. This way, you can help protect yourself from E&O exposure if a loss happens later.
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