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Thread: Homeowner Insurance?

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    Homeowner Insurance?

    This may be the wrong forum but wasn't sure where else to put it. This will be part vent, part questions.

    I live in a state that does not require a fence for a private pool. Because I live in the county, I am not required by any local ordinance for any fencing. However, so far, EVERY insurance company says I must have a fence.

    I am sure I am going to get a lot of backlash over the whole, "Why wouldn't you put up a fence when a pool can be so dangerous?" I live in a very rural, very secluded area. I am surrounded by pasture (my own) and woods. My nearest neighbor is a half mile and cannot see us when the trees are out in full bloom. There visibility is very limited even in winter. I have NO small children in my life. I am not opposed to EVER putting in a fence if there comes a point where I am worried about children, but at this point that is moot. If you are at my house, you know me, you are lost, or you are up to no good, at which point, I am on the deck with something that might change your mind about your intentions.

    The pool will be completely separate from and behind the house. It will be between the house and another external structure - my barn that we are converting into a bar/changing area. The pool, when you add in all the decking, the tanning ledge, a sit 'n spa, etc, will be very large and take up a lot of my yard. (YEAH - less mowing!) Because of the grade, it will have a retaining wall around about 50%. A wrought iron fence would make it look like a cheap Motel 6 pool. I think any fence will look odd on top of the retaining wall, which is half my pool area, so I will spend all this money on a beautiful pool and then more on a fence that looks ridiculous. And if I HAVE to have a fence, I want one that lets me do whatever I want without worrying about who comes up in the drive and that keeps the dogs and wildlife out. I am much, much, much more worried about a deer or squirrels in my pools than people. And that kind of fence will create a "leaf trap" (lots of trees) and make it hard to move furniture in/out, a future hot tub in, on and on and on. If I lived in an area with neighbors or small children, I would feel very differently, but I am surrounded by own acreage. No, fencing in the yard is not an option because it is HUGE.

    So today, I have had several insurance agents tell me the reason why they won't insure me without a fence is because even if someone was trespassing and took a dip and drowned, I could be sued. A fence "limits" my liability - but they could still sue me. So what I take from that is that the insurance company wants to be able to fight the payout - which is ridiculous anyway if people are trespassing. Where I live is SURROUNDED by water - two huge lakes, several rivers, many properties with ponds. I have never heard of anyone breaking into a pool in our area because why would you? Just go to the lake. And if I had a pond on my property, I wouldn't have to fence that! I owned horses for years and had people fall off, get thrown off, had the horses get out and end up on someone else's property, get hung between a truck and trailer and caused a tailgate replacement - never had to have special precautions or problems with the insurance company. All I had to do was post a couple of signs and insurance company was satisfied.

    Is this just the way it is everywhere? (I see lots of pictures of unfenced pools.) Do you have problems with people being in it when they shouldn't? Is yours fenced? Are you required to have one? Are you in a rural or suburban area? Does that fence really protect you from a lawsuit or is it just something the insurance companies can use to fight a lawsuit? Do you feel more protected with a fence? And if someone cracks their head on the deck, not even in the water, what does that fence do? How much liability insurance do you carry? Did you have problems finding a company that would insure you (no one really wants to deal with it here)? Did it drastically raise your premiums by adding a pool? Do any of you have insurance companies that didn't require a fence? Was it more expensive? Hard to find? How many have a separate "umbrella" policy just for the pool?

    I hate to vent and load this up with questions, but it chaps my buns to be told what I have to do on my own property that isn't required by law. And it chaps my buns to have to put something up I don't want, which very much adds to the cost of the pool, that is making me rethink the whole thing. I could buy a boat and just be at the unfenced lake without all this hassle.

    Vent over.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    hi vpace74,
    Its that way everywhere. If you see a pool without a fence, its either under construction or the Pool Owner doesnt have insurance.
    Or it may have been taken down temporarily just for the photos that were taken.

    The insurance industry is ALL about RISK. Has nothing to do with not wanting to pay out (which they dont), but thats another topic.
    If there is no fence, the risk is higer and it their goal in life, to eliminate all risks which can reasonably be done. (soemtimes even those that are not reasonable), and it doesnt matter where you live or how seculuded you are.

    As well, the NSPA has set forth minimum safety standards which are the minimum building code for places where you need building permits. There is no doubt your insurance company has a copy of them and fencing is part of it.

    Sorry for the bad new, but that's just how it is man....

    EDIT to add.
    Not only do you have to have a fence, it has to have self closing and latching gates on it.
    The latches must be at least X inches above the ground
    The Fence must open toward the side where the latch is
    It has to be so tall
    If its wood, the runners have to be on the inside towards the pool
    It its wood, the pickets cannot be more than (I think 2) inches apart...
    te hbottom of the fence cannot be Less than x nor more than x inches off the ground (2 year old could get it arm under and not get out, then the dog would attack the trapped kid... blah blah... )
    etc etc etc..... the list goes on man.

    Im urban, Im required to have a fence, my insurance did not go up at all, I have no diving board. I cannot get insurnace from my insurance company at all if there is a diving board.

    I do believe my fence keeps the neighborhood kids out. Before the pool were finished, they were all over my back yard and couldnt wait till it was finished and they could swim in it. None of them have been in it yet and never will.
    Divin Dave,
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    I agree completely that the whole fence thing is a little overblown in many cases. Especially in rural areas. We are in the same boat, pastures, fences, cross fences, dogs, donkeys, cows, horses, chickens, coyotes, snakes are all guarding my pool. Stock ponds, creeks, lakes, retention ponds are everywhere with no fence at all. Often with steep muddy banks that a kid could easily slip and fall into. Insurance company, Travelers, didn't ask me anything about a fence. City recently amended the rules to require a fence. Previous rules said that any pool on more than an acre did not require a fence.

    In a subdivision I might agree. But, a fence is only going to stop a kid under 4 or 5 and they should not be anywhere without supervision. I was maybe 6 when I was climbing any fence I came to even 8' privacy fences.
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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    with what all I said before, I agree with yall about pool fences in rural areas.

    man, I climbed all of the fences too! Even an electric one...once!
    And I swam in every pond, stream, creek and river that got in my way! LOVED growing up in the country and Im still alive to tell about it!

    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    I was maybe 6 when I was climbing any fence I came to even 8' privacy fences.
    Divin Dave,
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    Right! And half the time I climbed the fence twice as fast to get outta there because something was chasing me! Like a bull!
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    @DivinDave - Funny thing is, I never get a collective answer on "what" constitutes a fence. I only had one give me specifications similar to yours, including height, self locking latches, etc. The rest have all said they don't care how tall it is, what it is constructed of, or whether it goes around the entire yard or just the pool. The only thing they care about is that a "reasonable" person could see that it was a fence intended to keep people out that is completely enclosed. To be so up in arms over the fence, they are awfully lax on what it has to be.

    @pooldv - I would have to search, search, search my memory for the last drowning in a pool in this area. I cannot ever remember anyone drowning in the city pool. Pools are pretty rare in this area, which I am sure contributes to that. On another note, we have people drown in the lakes are rivers EVERY year, and even one drown in a pond last year. Most people have grown up surrounded by water and not only know how to swim, but are not taken by the "novelty" of it in a pool when they can go so many places to swim. And if a child that small has wandered that far onto my property without supervision, there is a much, much, much bigger problem. Even if I had a child at my house, my back deck is fully enclosed and gated to prevent getting to the yard (keeps the dogs off the furniture).

    As I said, I worry much more about someone falling and getting hurt, which could happen anywhere on your property, or an animal in it. I actually worry that if a fence is there, the deer would just jump it and land in as they jump over every fence around our property when startled. With no fence, they could avoid the "void" in the ground.

    AR does not regulate private pools at all - they are regulated by city/county. I am in the county so I am not required to have a building permit, meet any "codes" or have a fence. The only inspection I will have to have is on the electricity. This is purely insurance company policy. I don't have to fence my dogs (and don't), can play my music and get as loud as I want, have bonfires in my field, let my grass grow to my chin, put as many vehicles as I want all over the place in various states of disrepair, let trash and debris pile as high as I want, and fill my property with as many goats, horses, cows, llamas and whatever other critter I like - and believe me, some people in the county do all these things and many more. I have always loved the freedom of truly owning and doing as I wish on my land by being in the county even if sometimes people take it a bit far.

    I have an insurer who guarantees he can insure me without a fence and I will call tomorrow. I also have someone coming out to measure for a bid just in case. If we do a fence, it will be a horizontal wood batten board (sp?) privacy fence with two large gates so leaves don't get trapped in with no way to get them out and to move furniture, etc. I am thinking no more than 4'. If you can climb over 4', you know what you are doing. I don't know what the "average" fence height is, and it will only be a "babydoll" decorative fence on the retaining wall because you'd crack your head in the drop before you made it to the pool if you tried that route.

    What a pain and I don't even have a hole yet!

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    good luck to you vpace....
    I hope it works out for you .

    - - - Updated - - -

    Or a goat!
    man, a goat can jump a decent fence like it wasnt there... and chase you onto the tops of broke down trucks too!
    LOL

    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    Right! And half the time I climbed the fence twice as fast to get outta there because something was chasing me! Like a bull!
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    I live out in the middle of nowhere too. In the end, you are probably going to want to have a fence. A pool with a solar cover is very dangerous to dogs because they think it's a solid surface or water, but it's neither. They can't walk on it or swim. We actually had a 600lb heifer step out on our safety cover the first winter when we didn't have the pool fenced yet. I think we'd have a fence just to keep the dogs out if for no other reason.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    Most pool fence requirements are 4' tall. We have four strand smooth wire on the back side and field fence or cattle panels on the other fence lines. To keep the livestock out. One dog won't stay out of the pool and the other won't get in.
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    At least we know where you are coming from!

    Life is full of risks. We all allow our lives to include a certain amount of risk, whether by choice or default. Not getting a fence around a pool increases your risk by choice. If "something" happens, would you be OK with that? Something, for example, could be that your friends are over with their small child, and while everyone is enjoying after dinner conversation, the little one steps out of site for 30 seconds. Since you don't have small children in your life, you may not realize how easily this can happen. Are you going to reevaluate your fence decision each time people that might stop by your house have their first child? Yes, I'm intentionally trying to get you to think outside of your current living situation. I absolutely don't want to make you mad. I just felt from your questions, that your were asking honestly for a wide range of opinions.

    Our insurance company requires a) local laws be met (which requires a fence), b) a fence be installed, c) the diving board have a non-slip surface. However, my first insurance company wouldn't insure a diving board period. I "chose" to increase my risk and add a diving board and also find an insurance company that would be ok with that. However, I also have an umbrella policy (that sits on top of the base policies - and is therefore subject to the same coverages & restrictions) for a very high dollar coverage amount. I basically have the maximum amount of financial coverage available. But I still have risk. I feel the fence shows that I am putting forth a good faith effort to keep people, who may not be able to protect themselves, out of harm's way. I am also in line with the common thinking of the majority of the counties (by population) which have rules governing fences around pools - and these are the rules they feel provide society with reasonable protection. Nothing protects you from a lawsuit being filed. What you want is protection from someone winning a lawsuit - following 'best practices' is a good start - regardless of whether they are on the books. To some extent, they require what many feel is a reasonable effort (4' fence, blah, blah, blah) to eliminate 80-90% (or some reasonably high percent) of accidental deaths/injuries. The extra effort to make a pool "safe" 99% would be above what people could afford ($$$$). Law of diminishing returns.

    We live in a suburban area with 1-3 acre lots and farmland, but close to a major metro area. Generally, the farther you go from large metro areas, the less regulation and more "freedom" you get. But with freedom comes responsibility.

    I wish you the best with your decision and your project. There are lots of difficult ones that come with building a pool...and they are not necessarily ones people foresee up front.

    We'd love to see some pics of your space. It sounds like you have a bit of heaven on earth.
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    Re: Homeowner Insurance?

    @bmoreswim - Didn't make me mad at all. Yes, I have thought of these things. We are past the point in life of having friends with "small" children. At some point later, small grandchildren come into the picture, then yes, I will completely re-evaluate. Our kids are still young enough that while they are nowhere near small, they (hopefully) won't have little ones of their own anytime soon. I am not adverse to EVER having a fence. And right now it is a bit of "mud, dirt piles, and a hole" on earth, but once we really get moving, I will post pictures. The weather FINALLY cooperated enough to get the hole dug - and now it is storming like crazy so it may become a pond & all momentum will stop again. As for the dogs - I have two corgis that love our creek so I don't know how they will be around the pool. I think they will be more of a pain on the furniture than in the pool - they are too lazy to really swim but I may be wrong.

    The good news is I found 4 different agencies that would write a policy on our house without a fence around the pool. This is because we are so rural, are within our own acreage, nowhere near a suburban area, school, etc, and our county policy doesn't require it. It has taken three days of getting/comparing quotes but I am moving my policies tomorrow. The best part is we will save a good chunk a year. We have been with (probably) the highest priced insurance company in town for years but my husband, bless him, is a loyal man even though it seems in this day and age, loyalty to a company doesn't get you much & they will just keep cashing your checks. On top of saving money, we were able to up our coverage on not only our house but also our vehicles and add a $1 million dollar umbrella policy to our home/auto to protect us from lawsuits in case of any kind of accident. It is a very large, well known company, so I am not at all concerned if I ever do have a claim on home or auto. Feeling a total win today.

    While pools are kind of rare here, we do have them. Any in the city limits have fences because that is the city ordinance. To see one in the county with a fence is rare unless they have neighbors nearby or small children of their own. We even looked at a house for sale that already had a pool that is close to ours - no fence. I knew this many people aren't just taking the risk of not telling their insurance company they put in a pool. Just took some time, many phone calls, and persistence but it paid off.

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