Insurance and Liability Coverage for Lake House Owners

By Frank Eaton

Living on the lake is exciting. Family, friends, guests over having a great time enjoying your lake house and dock. Then the worst happens, an accident -- and someone is hurt. It is on your property. Are you covered ?

Your Homeowner's insurance coverage consist of dwelling, personal property, structures in addition to the primary dwelling such as a dock or boat house, loss of use of the home caused by named perils such as fires or natural disasters, and liability exposures like property damage and bodily injuries caused by accident. Additional coverage is available for occurrences such as floods, septic runoffs, and umbrella coverages to protect your liabilities above your homeowner's coverage like accidental deaths.

Ask your insurance agent about your homeowners policy coverage and what other policies you will need for protection.

If you have a septic tank on your property, check with your insurance agent to make sure septic tank runoff protection is part of your homeowner's policy. If it is not, see if they have an additional add-on policy to your homeowner's to cover this. If they do not, there are septic tank companies that can provide this coverage as a home warranty program that includes pumping out and maintaining the septic tank annually to prevent runoffs and cover the damage and repairs if it does.

Separate flood insurance is available to cover water damage to your dwelling and property in case of a flood by the lake or excessive rainfall. On some lake properties, this is a requirement for homes in low lying flood zone areas. Your home may be in a flood zone area. Ask your insurance agent or check with the county land and tax assessor at the courthouse or town hall to see if your home is in these types of areas.

Docks are considered part of the homeowner's property and provide coverage on or around the dock. Check with your insurance agent on this coverage. If it is not included, add it to your policy.

Consider an Umbrella Policy to protect your personal liabilities. Homeowners are often liable for injuries that occur on their property; homes, autos, boats, docks. It is the responsibility of property owners to maintain safe conditions for people coming on or about their property. But if you cannot, accidents happen, and an umbrella policy coverage will protect your personal liabilities.

Umbrella policies are not just for millionaires, everyone needs one. This is personal liability insurance that "kicks in" after the limits on your Homeowner's, Auto, or Boat insurance has been reached. It provides higher liability protection against law suits, accidental deaths and bodily injuries, and even if your dog bites someone on or about your property. Check with your insurance agent on this policy.

Swimmers may get hurt or drown jumping off your dock. An Umbrella Policy will protect your personal liabilities. Ask your insurance agent to provide this type of coverage especially if you have adults and children swimming and playing on the water and about your lake property.

A good thing to do to possibly prevent accidental drowning is always try to provide adult supervision and have life preservers, rafts, and personal floating devices available at all times if possible to aid a swimmer in distress or people in the water, on docks, boats, and personal watercraft (PWC). Kids should always have on a life preserver when on a boat or watercraft. This is a requirement by the Coast Guard and lake law enforcement for kids up to age 13.

Your homeowner's policy will protect against trespassers on your property without permission that get hurt, like uninvited guests fishing off your dock. Ask your insurance agent about this. If your policy does not cover this, add it to the policy, or take out an umbrella policy to protect you.

A separate Boat insurance policy provides protection from accidents, collisions, and personal injuries on and around the boat. Passengers on your boat, skiers, and swimmers are protected. Boats running into docks, bridges, buoys, markers, or other boats are all covered. The boat runs over something underneath the water, capsizes, sinks, or comes off the trailer while being transported are all protected. Check with your insurance agent to make sure your boat has the right policy coverage.

A "Social Host Policy" is a separate policy to cover you if your guests have had a little too much to drink at your place, you served the alcohol, and they were hurt or killed on or leaving your property. Alcohol compromises any insurance policy coverage regardless of where you are, what you are on, what you were doing at the time, and who gets hurt. This policy will help cover that liability. Laws vary from state to state. Check with your insurance agent and make sure you have this policy coverage.

Always be safe and responsible. Make it a point to have the proper insurance coverage to protect you, your family, your guests, and your properties at all times.

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