Hot Liability Issues in the Summertime

By Shannon Ireland

Who doesn’t love summer? Hot fun such as waterparks, road trips, cookouts and boating generate part of the thrills. But for insurance providers, the word “thrills” translates to “risks.” And they hate risk. So do yourself a favor and reduce your risk — but not your fun — by following a few simple tips when taking on summer activities.

The payoff: fewer claims can translate into lower premiums. Then there’s also the fact that you can defend your wallet from having to shell out deductibles — the amount you agree to pay toward a claim before your provider helps.

Keep kids safe in the water

Once school’s out, many kids head straight for the pool. But it’s important to reduce their risks of injury or drowning.

More than 7.4 million pools are in residential and public use across the country, and there are more than 3,400 drownings each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have a pool, it’s vital that your insurance company knows about it.

That way, you can get help from your policy if you’re sued in connection with injuries — or worse — suffered by visitors. Want to decrease your shutterstock_278202725liability risk when putting in a pool? Enclose the pool in a fence at least six feet tall, with a self-locking gate. Remember, you can be held liable for injuries suffered by children who trespass on your property.

As for kids you invite to your pool, supervision is key. Chaperones should put away phones and other distractions to devote full attention to swimmers. Don’t leave kids alone in the pool even for a second. Make sure children who either don’t know how to swim or are not strong swimmers wear floaties or lifejackets when in the water.

Finally, teach kids about the dangers of going near pool drains or filters, and educate yourself on how to turn these devices off in a hurry in the event of an emergency.

Watercraft wisdom

If you’re heading to the lake or beach this summer, you should make sure that the insurance policies protecting your possessions are adequate. If you have a boat, consider coverage that includes:

  • Bodily injury liability
  • Property damage liability
  • Uninsured/underinsured watercraft coverage
  • Property coverage
  • Watercraft medical payments coverage
  • Personal effects coverage

These coverages help protect you and your family members on the water much as you’re covered on the highway. Say you cause an accident that injures someone or damages their property, collide with a dock, or if your possessions or boat are stolen or destroyed due to a covered peril. Complete boat insurance can help. And your boat policy may also protect you if you have jet skis. Call your local agent to discuss your coverage.

Hitting the open road

There’s nothing quite like driving to the beach or a nearby city during the summer to get a little change of pace. However, when backing out of the driveway, keep in mind that summer often yields more fatal car accidents than any other season. A number of factors contribute to this statistic, including:

  • Construction. Municipalities plan most of their yearly construction projects in the summer. When you encounter construction, be sure to adjust your speed and drive cautiously.
  • Increased traffic. Great minds think alike, meaning that tons of people want to take some sort of vacation now, too. It’s basic math: the more people on the road, the more opportunity for wrecks.
  • Young drivers. More kids get behind the wheel during the summer when school is out. Because they’re inexperienced, they may make bad decisions on the road.
  • The sun and heat do a number on your vehicle. Your engine has more opportunities to overheat, and your tires could blow out because the air in them expands due to the warm weather. Get regular maintenance to ensure your vehicle is operating properly.
  • More two-wheeled drivers. There are only so many months that cyclists and bikers can use their preferred modes of transportation.

Speaking of bikes, if you have a loved one who enjoys motorcycles or bicycles, make sure that they take proper safety precautions such as wearing a helmet and thick, bright, protective clothing.

In your own backyard

Summer cookouts bring together friends and family. But did you know that grill fires account for an average $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 deaths per year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration?

While fire typically is covered by standard home insurance, you don’t want to deal with one. To prevent grill fires, ensure that your grill is properly shutterstock_44003332cleaned and stored. Check hoses for cracks, holes or other faults, store propane tanks away from your home if you have a gas grill, don’t cover or put away your grill until it has cooled, rinse charcoal with cool water before disposing of it, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Don’t grill in an enclosed area.

While grownups man the grill, kids may choose to jump around on the trampoline. Nearly 105,000 children visited emergency rooms last year for injuries caused by trampolines, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To prevent injuries, don’t take shortcuts when assembling the trampoline. Furthermore, pad the bars, springs and the surrounding areas, and get the trampoline as close to ground level as possible to reduce potential impact if a jumper falls.

Always supervise trampoline use, and let your insurance provider know about this type of addition to your home. You need a fence around it for the same reason you need one around a swimming pool on your property.

Pup protectionshutterstock_231023848

Dogs love to roam the yard when the weather is pleasant, but with more people out and about, too, your dog may feel the need to protect you.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that more than $530 million in claims were paid in 2014 for dog bites — with an average payout of $32,072. If you have a dog, you need to make sure you have enough liability coverage in case it bites a guest or passerby. Keep Fido on a leash or in an enclosed area to reduce chances of bites.

This summer, don’t cut down on the hot fun, but be sure to take steps to lower your risks while enjoying the great weather.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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