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A back yard can be one of the great joys of owning a home. It can also be full of hazards that can affect your homeowners insurance rates. Here are some issues to talk to your insurance agent about, or at least take precautions for:

Swimming pool
Local safety standards and building codes may require a fence of a certain size that has a locked gate, among other pool safety equipment. But even that may not be enough to prevent accidents, with insurers considering a pool a liability risk that costs extra to insure.

An average of 3,536 people die annually from drowning, excluding boating-related incidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 10 deaths per day from unintentional drowning. Of those, two are children 14 or younger, and many happen in swimming pools.

It can take only a few minutes for a child to be out of view of their parents for them to fall into a pool and drown.

That may be why pools are called an “attractive nuisance” by insurance companies. Most homeowners policies have a minimum of $100,000 of liability protection, but pool owners may want to increase that to $300,000 to $500,000 by buying extra liability insurance.

Pool owners can also buy an umbrella liability policy for about $200 to $300 per year to get $1 million of liability protection beyond what they already have on their home.

Pool owners should also have enough insurance to replace an expensive or in-ground pool in case it’s destroyed by a storm or other disaster.

Social host liability
Having friends and family over for a backyard barbecue requires being aware of their safety. If they’re drinking too much alcohol and leave your house and get in an accident, you can be liable for it. A state’s social host liability laws determine if you’re at fault.

You can add extra liability coverage to deal with extra guests at your home, or add an umbrella policy.

Lighting and fires
There probably aren’t many lights in your back yard, so adding adequate lighting around walkways and around your house can make it easier for guests to see at nighttime parties.

If you have a fire pit, barbecue grill or anything else with a flame, be sure to use them safely and keep a small extinguisher nearby.

If a guest trips in a darkened area or burns himself, you may be held liable. It may not require extra insurance, though an umbrella policy may be needed if you have a lot of assets.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Contact me today with your real estate questions!