There are many reasons you should consider getting insurance for your playground. Playgrounds have long been a staple for children to let out their energy. These play areas have allowed them to exercise their bodies, explore their imaginations and play. As parents, many of us are aware of the dangers when it comes to playground equipment. But are we truly aware of all the risks it poses to us? We often don’t consider the financial ramifications should an accident or injury arise from using our playground equipment.
Insurance offers a safety net in case someone were to get injured on your property and your equipment. Insurance will:
- Protect you from liability from the injured party.
- Pay for damage to equipment due to theft, vandalism, weather, and anything else covered under your policy.
- Prevent you from losing your coverage if you have not disclosed your playset and backyard equipment to your insurance agency.
We are fully aware of the dangers this equipment poses to the physical safety of our children. But, what about the financial liability it could bring to us as homeowners? In this article, we will discuss why you should get insurance for your playground, the insurance options available to you, and how they protect you.
Why You Should Get Insurance for Your Playground
The reason you should get insurance for your playground can be summed up in two words: Accidents happen. We see the obvious ones all the time. As parents, we remind children not to rough house, allow only one child down the slide at a time, and don’t play on the monkey bars when they are wet, etc. There are other hidden dangers with owning a home play gym that is less widely known.
Homeowner’s insurance is almost wholly mandatory for borrowers seeking money from mortgage lenders. Many renters, including apartments, require tenants to have renter’s insurance. But what does it cover?
Under most insurance policies, standard coverage applies to ‘other structures’ on your property, including sheds, detached garages, playgrounds, and the like. This type of coverage only refers to specified perils and disasters listed explicitly with your insurance policies, such as:
- Riots or civil unrest
- Damage by snow
- Damage by ice
- Erosion by hail
- Or erosion by wind, etc.
It does not cover personal liability relating to falls or injuries from your backyard play equipment. A different type of homeowner’s insurance is required for this specific reason.
What Is an Umbrella Policy?
The number one difference between a homeowner’s insurance policy and an umbrella policy is that the umbrella policy covers personal and bodily harm. This is extremely important to have when you include potential hazards on your property, such as a backyard playground.
An umbrella policy offers an additional coverage policy in conjunction with the homeowner’s insurance you already have. General homeowner’s liability insurance has a payout of around $300,000.* But should an accident or injury happen on your property and playground equipment, $300,000 may not cover the medial and legal fees.
In most cases, personal injury settlements can range from one million dollars to around ten million dollars, depending on the homeowner’s negligence and the severity of the accident. Umbrella policies step in and offer additional liability limits, often in million-dollar increments.
This policy provides you the peace of mind knowing that if you face a multi-million-dollar lawsuit, you have the necessary coverage to handle any financial responsibility.
If you think that adding another insurance policy with a million-dollar payout is too costly, think again. The additional premium for umbrella policies with these types of limits cost only an additional few hundred dollars a year. This comes to around $200 on average. This addition in preimum is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Going without this could leave you paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and legal fees.
Remember that once a claim has been filed against you, it is too late to get a policy. It is better to be prepared.
*This is a very generalized and standard number. Please check with your insurance agent to see how much your general liability limits are through your homeowner’s insurance.
We live in a very litigious society. The potential or fear of a lawsuit is always foremost in most businesses’ minds. However, we seldom think of potential lawsuits on our properties. The possibility of a lawsuit increases when you have potential hazards such as a:
- Swimming pool
These potential hazards warrant an increase in liability coverage.
As a homeowner, you are responsible for making sure your property is reasonably free of precarious settings and having any unsafe conditions fixed within a feasible amount of time. Failure to do so could make you susceptible to premises liability.
There are several different levels of legal statuses of visitors to your property, such as:
- Those hired to do work on your home
- Shoppers to a yard sale
- Family members
There are different legal obligations associated with each of these categories. Determining the status of a visitor is essential when definitive liability. There are two exceptions to this rule.
A homeowner is less responsible for a trespasser on their property than for someone they have purposefully invited. That person is an uninvited intruder on that property, and your obligation to them is lower than your responsibility to someone you have asked to be on your property.
However, the most significant exception to this rule is children, even when they are trespassing. The homeowner must still ensure that the property is free of hazards that might tempt a child. Such enticements are known as “attractive nuisances.” Your playground could be considered an attractive nuisance.
One costly yet straightforward way to avoid this is to install a fence in your back yard. This preventive measure will significantly reduce the potential for unwanted guests, even children, onto your property.
Let us create an example. An invited child is playing on your backyard playset and falls and breaks an arm. Your insurance company will need to be notified in case of a filing against you. If the injured child’s parents or guardians decide to sue, the first step would be determining fault.
To determine fault, one has to prove negligence by showing an anticipated danger and an absence of reasonable care resulting in the injury. Simply put, if you, the homeowner, knew the playset was broken and allowed the child to play on it anyway, that could make you liable.
Another liability would be allowing the child to play unsupervised on the play equipment. If they are on your property, consider them your responsibility and potential liability.
What Happens If Your Child Were to Get Injured On Someone Else’s Playground?
The same procedures, as stated above, would have to apply, just in reverse. Instead of you, the homeowner, defending yourself against a liability case, you would be building a claim against the other homeowner. The type of evidence you would need would be pictures of the:
- Accident scene
- Witness statements
- Medical records on the injury
- Photos of your child’s injury,
Another type of claim to consider when an injury has occurred on your property or your child’s injury on someone else’s property is product liability. This liability simply inquires if there was a fault in the product itself that caused the accident.
The injury may have had nothing to do with your negligence or the other homeowner’s negligence and could have everything to do with the product, and its manufacturing.
In any such case, consulting with your insurance provider and a personal injury attorney is always the best course of action.
Cost to The Homeowner If Something Were To Happen
Not only is the potential for a massive payout a possibility, should an injury occur, but any damage to your property will inevitably cost you. Homeowners insurance will cover the cost to any damage your play equipment may receive due to:
- Riot or civil unrest
- Falling objects
- Fire and lightning
- So much more
We all know that back yard play sets can cost a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It is always better to have additional insurance to help offset the cost of repairs and replacement of the equipment.
Will Filing A Claim Cause A Rise in My Insurance Premiums?
Contrary to what people may think, filing a claim against your homeowner’s insurance will not usually cause the premium to go up. Again, this is a general and standard observation; it in no way should be substituted for advice from your insurance agent.
Potential Loss of Insurance
When first purchasing a home or renting one, let your insurance agent know about any backyard equipment you intend to have installed. Failure to disclose this information may lead to your losing coverage.
Standard Injuries and Percentages Of Backyard Injuries
Children can find a way to get hurt with just about anything. But playsets make that possibility exponential. The top four places with playground equipment that children often find themselves getting hurt are:
A whopping 66% of playground injuries happen on home playgrounds. With the odds being this high, having an umbrella policy is imperative.
The most common injuries from playground equipment are:
- Fractures at 34%
- Contusions at 17%
- Lacerations at 15%
- Strains and sprains at 13%
- Internal organ trauma at 9%
These can happen in many ways, but most injuries occur from monkey bars, playground gyms, and swing sets. Here is the breakdown of equipment most linked with emergency department related injuries:
- Monkey bars or playground gym at 34%
- Swings and swing set at 25%
- Slides at 21%
- Other playground equipment at 9%
- Those not specified at 9%
Safety Tips for Home Playground Equipment
Now that you are aware of the legal responsibility you have for the playground equipment on your property and the potential for a massive lawsuit, what are some ways you can protect yourself and decrease the risk of a suit and an injury?
The obvious and most costly step would be to fence in your back yard. This measure may seem extreme, but it will reduce the number of uninvited children coming into your yard and benefit you should a lawsuit arise from any accidents.
Have your playground equipment professionally installed. This type of installation would take some of the liability off of you.
Make sure the area you put your playground equipment on is spacious enough to accommodate it. There should be at least six feet of free space in all directions of the play gym. If you are installing a swing set, you will need twelve feet of unencumbered space in the swings’ front and back.
What type of material are you considering for your playset? Metal structures offer little upkeep as they are very durable and are often resistant to rust. They will require light maintenance in the form of paint touches ups.
Wooden structures may look more aesthetically appealing, but they do demand far more care. These wooden structures are susceptible to splintering, rotting, and bolts coming loose due to the wood drying out over time. Wooden structures will need to be pressure treated with a non-arsenic and child-safe process to ensure its durability over time and in fluctuating weather. If properly maintained, both metal and wooden structures will last for many years.
Just like with baby proofing your home, you will need to childproof your playset. Although not every accident can be foreseen and accounted for, taking every precaution would dramatically reduce the risk to your child and another child that plays on the equipment.
Look for any sharp edges on the equipment and take the necessary steps to remove this danger.
Raised platforms should come with protective rails to prevent falls, and all hardware should be covered with plastic caps.
Consider putting plastic sheathing over the swings metal chains. This covering will prevent pinched fingers.
Loose and hanging ropes need to be removed or securely tied away. Many children have strangled themselves on the ropes when they have gotten tangled up in them.
What does the ground look like below the playset? The ideal surface would be shock-absorbing surfaces. The top materials used for this type of absorption are:
- Double shredded bark mulch
- Wood chips
- Fine sand
- Fine gravel
Between six and twelve inches in depth would be optimal for helping decrease the likeness of any significant or life-threatening injury.
Always, always, always supervise your children and any children playing on your equipment. Adult supervision is the easiest way to prevent an accident. Remember, you are responsible and could be liable for any injures that happen on your property.
These are just a handful of the distinct measures that need to be taken to prevent serious injury. You should always inspect and maintain your playground equipment as you would anything else on your property.
Safety Tips for Children On Playground Equipment
There are also a few safety measures you can give your children and any children playing on your play gym.
- Make sure no loose drawstrings are hanging from their clothes.
- Make sure they are wearing appropriate footwear, closed-toed sneakers are the best.
- Avoid the equipment if the metal or plastic, especially the slides, are too hot due to sun exposure. A general rule, if it’s too hot for your touch, it’s too hot for children to play on.
- No roughhousing
- Avoid the playground if it’s wet
- Make sure kids go down the slides one at a time
- One kid on the swing at a time, etc
Note: Parents, please do not sit your child, especially a toddler or younger, in your lap and go down the slide. This position could easily see your child’s foot and leg slip out of your lap and break at an extreme and painful angle.
Having a backyard playground is convenient. It allows the children to play, exercise, and run their energy out in a familiar and safe setting. As comfortable as it is for the parent and child, it can also come at considerable risk.
We know that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover any damage your playground equipment may sustain due to weather, theft, or damage in some way. This is a relief as this type of equipment is costly to repair and replace. Homeowner’s insurance is not only beneficial financially but is a requirement to purchase or rent a home.
Umbrella policies are probably one of the best investments you could make when owning a home. It protects you from the potential of a massive lawsuit and offers you incredible peace of mind.
You have already invested so much time into your home, yard, and children by giving them a fun and safe place to play and grow. Why not take it a small step further and add this essential policy? Protecting yourself financially is the smartest and safest investment you can make.
No Legal Advice Intended
The contents of this website are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The contents of this website, and the posting and viewing of the information on this website, should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented on this website may not reflect the most current legal developments. No action should be taken in reliance on the information contained on this website and we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.