What is an Attractive Nuisance?

Discover what constitutes an attractive nuisance and how it can impact your homeowners insurance.

Attractive nuisances and homeowners insurance

You may love your pool, playground equipment, or trampoline, but your insurance company might not. These items — along with others — create risk of an accident, making you more likely to file a homeowners insurance claim.

Put simply, an attractive nuisance is something that increases the appeal of your property while simultaneously increasing the risk of danger. The idea behind attractive nuisances is that they could draw uninvited guests (primarily children) to your property and potentially cause an accident. Like a moth to a candle, many children will head straight for a swimming pool or piece of playground equipment regardless of whether or not it’s in their own yard, putting them — and you by extension — at risk. 

This poses a huge liability concern. If someone — even if uninvited — were to have an accident on your trampoline or slip outside of your pool, you could be held personally responsible for their injuries. While your medical payments to others coverage will kick in, it can quickly be exhausted, leaving you open to being sued for the remainder of the damages. Below you’ll find out more about attractive nuisances as well as how your homeowners insurance policy can help protect you. 

 

What counts as an attractive nuisance? 

There are many potential attractive nuisances out there. Most are used to increase design or recreation on your property, but there are a number of other items that could fall into this category as well. Here are some of the most common:

 

Pools and hot tubs

The hazards are numerous with a swimming pool. Aside from the obvious drowning hazard, the surfaces around pools can be slippery and lead to spills. Even neglected or empty pools can pose a serious threat. 

 

Construction zones

If you are currently building your home — or completing an addition — the unfinished structure could pose a risk to uninvited guests. Exposure to power tools, bare wiring, and unfinished flooring are just some of the hazards that could cause harm. 

 

Water features 

Other than swimming pools, many yards have features such as fountains, ponds, and waterfalls to add to their appeal. While increasing the ambiance of your yard or garden, these elements are likely to be a magnet for young children. 

 

Old cars

That rusted-out shell of a classic Mustang that’s been sitting around your property could draw the attention of curious individuals. Keep it locked in the garage until you find the time to restore it.

 

Playground equipment

You might have put built the playground equipment for your own child or grandchild, but that doesn’t diminish the allure to other children in the neighborhood. Items like jungle gyms, tree houses, and trampolines pose a substantial risk of falling or causing another accident. 

 

Other yard structures

Decorative features such as lawn art or specially-designed concrete structures can add great aesthetic value to your home, but they can also bring the risk of an accident. 

 

Steps you can take to protect yourself and others

A good rule of thumb is to limit access to the attractive nuisance. If you have a pool, for instance, ensure it is fenced in and behind a locked gate. If the pool is not often in use or otherwise neglected, consider having it filled in altogether. The same considerations should be made for all such attractive nuisances. 

While taking the necessary precautions to keep unwanted visitors out is your best way to combat a costly accident, there are other steps you can take to keep yourself protected. You can also increase the personal liability coverage portion of your homeowners insurance to cover any potential accidents if your medical payments to others coverage is exhausted. If you were sued for an amount that exceeded your policy’s limit — usually starting between $100,000 and $300,000 — you would be responsible for the remainder. 

 

Attractive nuisances and insurance: considerations

It’s hard to watch your property at all times. Even if you have a sign posted that warns against trespassing, there are many cases where you — the homeowner — could be found liable for accidents that occur because of attractive nuisances.

Ultimately, it comes down to taking the necessary steps to protect people while on your property. Even if they are trespassers, it falls to the property owner to ensure that the necessary precautions have been made to keep people safe. That, along with keeping the personal liability portion of your homeowners coverage at reasonable limits, can go a long way in keeping you and those around you protected.