It’s summertime and the livin’ is … risky. Summer may feel like a magical time full of carefree days, afternoons on the lake, backyard BBQs, and fun family vacations, but it’s also a time when accidents - and insurance claims - go on the rise.
You don’t have to cancel your summer plans and spend the next 3 months hiding out in your home to avoid these summertime risks, however. A little awareness and preparedness can go a long way to keeping you and your family safe all season long.
Check out our insurance guide to more summer fun infographic and read on for some of the summer-specific activities that have the potential to go horribly wrong - and how to avoid them.
Is your idea of summer fun taking your boat out to the nearest lake, river, or bay? Whether it’s a slow day of relaxing on your fishing boat or pushing your speedboat to the (posted) limit, boating is a great warm weather past time.
It’s also extremely dangerous.
Last summer there were 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and approximately $46 million dollars of property damage as a result of recreational boating accidents, according to the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics, 2017 report.
Boating accidents that lead to property damage, injury, and death can happen at any time, and usually take the form of a collision with a recreational vehicle, collision with a fixed object, flooding, grounding, or a fall overboard.
You may think you’re a seasoned watercraft operator, but there are many factors that contribute to accidents on the water.
The top 5 primary contributing factors for boating accidents in 2017 were:
- Operator inattention
- Improper lookout
- Operator inexperience
- Alcohol use
- Excessive speed
Pay attention. Operator inattention is the #1 cause of boating accidents. And avoid alcohol while operating your watercraft. Alcohol use may be the #3 contributing factor for boating accidents but it’s the #1 contributing factor for boating fatalities.
Is there insurance for that?
While homeowner’s insurance can provide some limited coverage for certain watercraft in certain situations, boating insurance offers the best coverage for your vessel, your financial investment, and the people you take out on the water.
What does boating insurance cover?
- Your boat: Protect your watercraft from collisions with other boats or objects
- Liability: Protect yourself from lawsuits if you’re responsible for someone’s injury or damage to their boat
- Personal belongings: Protect the outdoor gear you’ve invested in, such as wetsuits, radios, underwater cameras, and other boating equipment
Safe boating practices can go a long way to reduce your risk on the water this summer. Boating insurance can provide a safety net in the event something does go wrong with your boat or watercraft.
And boating isn’t the only water-related risk in the summer.
Is there anything more quintessentially “summer” than the pool party? Whether you have a few friends over to take a quick dip or love to host huge get-togethers for the entire clan, a pool party can be a fun and refreshing way to entertain and beat-the-heat.
It can also be a great way to get into big trouble.
According to the World Health Organization, drowning is a leading cause of unintentional deaths worldwide. In the U.S. alone an average of 3,536 people die each year from drowning. That’s about 10 drowning deaths each day.
And kids are at the most risk.
- According to the CDC, drowning is the #1 cause of death for children ages 1 - 4.
- For every child in the US who drowns, 5 other receive emergency care for swimming pool injuries.
- 75% of drowning deaths in children under the age of 15 occurred at a swimming pool located at a private residence, such as a home pool or neighbor’s pool.
What factors contribute to drowning risk?
The CDC has found that the main factors that affect drowning risk are:
- Lack of swimming ability
- Lack of barriers, such as pool fencing/ isolation fences
- Lack of close supervision
- Alcohol use
Keep Your Pool Safe
Make sure your home swimming pool is safe. Install four-sided fencing that completely separates the pool area from the house and the yard. The CDC recommends pool fencing that is at least 4-feet high, has self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children.
Stay alert. A responsible adult should supervise all children swimming or playing in/ around the water. Drowning can happen in an instant, so good supervision means not multitasking when watching children in the pool. Save the book, phone, or other activities until another adult is “on duty.”
Swimming lessons and CPR skills save lives. Taking part in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in young children (ages 1 - 4). CPR lessons can help adults and older children/ teens save lives in the event of a drowning.
Is there insurance for that?
Homeowners insurance generally includes a liability coverage to protect you against financial claims for third-party injuries that occur on your property.
If you have a pool, you may want to consider increasing the liability portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you have $300,000 in liability coverage before you have a pool installed, for example, you may want to consider an increase to $500,000 - or more, if you have considerable assets to protect.
If you want to increase the protection of your homeowner’s insurance coverage, an umbrella policy could provide the peace-of-mind against what you need for your pool and home. If someone is injured in or near your pool during one of your summertime pool parties, there is a real risk that a lawsuit could follow. Medical bills and legal bills can quickly add up.
Umbrella insurance kicks in when you’ve reached the limits of your underlying liability policy. Many homeowners can get a $1 million personal umbrella policy for around $150 to $300 a year, making this a smart investment to protect your financial assets against possible poolside perils.
Fireworks and Grills
It’s going to take a bit more than sunscreen to ensure you don’t get burned this summer. The US Fire Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warn that careless handling of fireworks and outdoor grills can pose a big summertime risk.
A 2016 report on fireworks-related deaths and emergency department-treated injuries by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed the danger of summertime fireworks:
- Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 emergency department-treated injuries in 2016
- 7,600 of these injuries occurred between June 18, 2016 and July 18, 2016
- Young adults 20-24 years of age have the highest rate of emergency-department injuries
- An average of 7.1 deaths per year are related to fireworks
Most fireworks-related injuries were associated with misuse or malfunction of fireworks. Misuse included improperly setting off fireworks, mischief, lighting fireworks in one’s hand, and placing and lighting fireworks inside one’s body part. Fireworks malfunctions can include tip-over incidents, short fuses, errant flight paths, and fragments/ debris.
Not only do fireworks pose a threat of bodily injury, they can also be a big risk for property damage, as well.
Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outdoor fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Practice Fireworks Safety
Be safe around fireworks. NFPA recommends that all consumers avoid personal use of fireworks, and urges you to see a show put on by professionals, instead. Even sparklers can cause serious burns and injuries - they account for nearly one-quarter of all emergency room fireworks injuries.
Grill and Barbecue Accidents
From 2011 - 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 9,600 home fires involving gas grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year. That number included an average of 4,100 structure fires causing an average of 10 deaths, 160 injuries, and $133 million in property damage, NFPA reports. July is the peak month for grill fires.
In roughly one of every five grill fires, the grill had not been properly cleaned. In 11% of home fires, an outside wall caught fire near a grill. Gas grills are the leading cause of home grill fires, resulting in 82% of fires. Charcoal or other solid fuel grills are responsible for 14% of home fires.
Position grills away from the home to reduce the risk of a fire. Keep your grill clean and pay extra attention when using gas grills.
Prevent grill-related injuries by keeping children away from grills. Children under the age of 5 account for one-third of the 1,600 annual grill-related emergency department-treated injuries.
Is there insurance for that?
Homeowners insurance and umbrella insurance are once again a good safety net against outdoor grilling and fireworks accidents. Fires are generally covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. If you want additional protection above and beyond the limits of your homeowner’s policy, an umbrella policy can give you $1 million in additional coverage - or more.
What if you don’t own your home? Renters insurance could help you protect your belongings in the event of a fire at the home you rent. While your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance protects the structure itself, it typically won’t cover your personal items inside. If an errant firework set the home you rent ablaze, only renters insurance could help you replace your furniture, electronics, sporting goods, clothing, and other possessions if they were damaged in the fire.
Stay Safe This Summer
Being aware of summer-specific risks can go a long way toward helping you stay safe this summer. Be thoughtful and prepared as you go out on the water, float in your pool, and host friends and family for parties and barbecues at your home. Talk to your insurance agent about your specific summertime risks and the ways you can put your insurance policies to work protecting you and your family as the temperatures soar.