Every year when our family’s perennial garden starts blooming with the colours of spring, the perennial crop of backyard trampolines predictably pops up in our local big box and hardware stores. After long Canadian winters, parents are understandably anxious to get their kids outside again, and what better lure than a new piece of recreational equipment that is sure to attract all the neighbourhood friends?
Unfortunately, the attractiveness of recreational equipment such as trampolines and swimming pools can create insurance coverage problems for homeowners who choose to bring them onto their property. Homeowners’ “How can homeowners with trampolines try to protect themselves?” for this sort of equipment because of the liability hazards they present.
Despite the known health benefits of trampolining (in particular, cardiovascular fitness), The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine, and Alberta Health Services have all gone so far as to recommend that trampolines NOT be available for use at homes, schools or playgrounds. Regardless of these position statements, however, the sales of backyard trampolines have continued to soar, as has the popularity of indoor trampoline parks.
How can homeowners with trampolines try to protect themselves? First, make absolutely sure to advise your insurance company of the trampoline, and ensure your policy includes coverage for this particular risk.Secondly, the Canada Safety Council has provided a safety-tip sheet for backyard trampolines that is worth reviewing, and making a household commitment of strict adherence.
This may not be enough however, because of the incredibly strong lure this kind of equipment poses to young children. Even if a child does not have permission to use a homeowner’s trampoline (or has been expressly told they are NOT allowed to use it), the simple fact that one is accessible on a property can expose an owner to liability. Section 13 of Alberta’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, RSA 2000, c. O-4, for example, has a special provision that prescribes a high duty of care owed to child trespassers.
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