Liability insurance for summertime recreation
Winters are long and cold where I live in the Northeast. When summer finally arrives, all you want to do is take advantage of the warmer weather-whether it’s riding a jet ski at the lake or taking a dip in the pool at home.

These “toys” are what summer’s all about, but there’s always that chance of someone getting hurt using them-which puts a real damper on the fun. Because of that risk, it’s smart to have insurance coverage to protect you.

If your summertime fun involves a recreational vehicle (RV), an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), a personal watercraft (PWC) like a jet ski or a wave runner, a boat, a golf cart, a motorcycle, a bicycle, a trampoline, a pool, or even a swing set, you should consider the possibility of an accident and how to protect yourself before it happens.

What Kind of Insurance Coverage Do You Need for Your Summer Toys?

Review the types of insurance available to you for your particular toy. You will need to consider physical damage coverage for your property as well as liability insurance. Most insurance policies also include coverage for property damage to others and coverage that will reimburse you or a guest for hospital or doctor bills.

Property Damage: If you’re thinking about getting property damage coverage, estimate the value of your property and how much you would lose. If you have an RV or a boat, you’re probably looking at a pretty sizable loss without insurance. We usually recommend choosing the highest liability limit the underlying policy has to offer and then adding an umbrella policy to your portfolio.

Liability Insurance: If you or a guest is injured while using one of your summer toys, medical bills can add up quickly. A guest could even sue you if he or she is injured on your property. If you’re worried about legal action or high medical bills not covered by your homeowner’s policy, you should talk to your insurance provider about adding extra liability coverage to your homeowner’s insurance plan, or take a look at an umbrella policy.

Umbrella Coverage: If you have an umbrella liability policy, don’t forget to include your summer toys on this extended liability coverage. Confirm that your umbrella carrier will allow any of these toys to be included. Some carriers may not allow personal watercraft to be included.

Trampolines
Kids love trampolines, but they carry significant risks. Check with your carrier to make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy covers a trampoline. Some carriers prefer not to absorb that exposure, and some may cancel or decline to renew your policy if they find out you have one on your property.

Pools
Physical damage to an underground pool is probably not covered on your homeowner’s policy if “earth movement” is specifically excluded. An aboveground pool may be protected by “other structures” coverage in the policy. Medical expenses and liability coverage on the homeowner’s policy will provide some coverage if a guest is injured.

Boats
Your homeowner’s policy can include a boat up to a certain length. Check with your carrier on its size limitation. However, I usually recommend insuring your boat on a separate policy altogether. That way, if there’s a claim, it doesn’t count against your homeowner’s policy.

Just like sunscreen protects your skin from sunburn, insurance will help protect your finances in the event of a lawsuit. Claims are considered a blemish on your record. The more claims you have, the higher a risk you are considered to be. You’ll have to pay higher premiums, and you may even have trouble getting coverage.

And just as important as being properly insured is exercising all safety precautions when operating your summer toys, to keep them fun and safe.

Discuss with your agent what kind of summer toys you have and how you will be using them to determine how much insurance you need to protect your assets, your lifestyle, your health, and your well-being.

Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.
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