Ninja Warrior Backyard Courses and Your Home Insurance

November 18, 2019

child playing on backyard ninja warrior type courseWe all want our kids to get outside more. Ninja Warrior backyard courses—whether you’re building one yourself or buying a kit—may seem like the perfect solution. Especially during the holiday season, when the last thing kids need is more stuff scattered around the house.

But homeowners beware… Your insurance company will not love an extreme obstacle course as much as your little ninjas. In fact, some carriers are saying “game over,” when it comes to insuring properties with warped walls, salmon ladders, jump hooks, and the like.

Go ahead, call us scrooges. (We’re used to it.) But while you do, here are the FAQs on Ninja Warrior backyard courses and how they can affect your homeowner’s coverage:

Why are Ninja Warrior backyard courses an issue for home insurance?

Simply put, ninja courses create an opportunity for someone to get hurt. (In insurance speak, they create a “liability exposure”).

Ninja courses are also considered an attractive nuisance (A.N.). So, in addition to the risk they bring during permitted/supervised use, they create even more exposure via uninvited guests. And according to the law, homeowners are responsible for injuries caused by attractive nuisances—even if the victim gets hurt while trespassing, using the yard without permission, or not following established rules.

Many home insurance companies will exclude attractive nuisances, meaning they will not cover any loss events associated with something they already told you was dangerous (e.g. a trampoline or a ninja course). Other companies will simply cancel or non-renew your home insurance policy if they become aware you’ve added an A.N. to your property.

Do I have to tell my insurance company I am buying (or building) a Ninja Warrior course in the backyard?

Yes! You should always alert for your MA home insurance agent (who will inform your insurance carrier) when you make a “change in property insured.” This can include adding a new structure or an attractive nuisance to your property. Prime examples:

  • Pools—Especially with diving boards or slides
  • Dogs
  • Trampolines
  • Treehouses
  • Ziplines
  • Skateboard ramps
  • Ninja Warrior courses

Will my insurance get canceled if I tell them I have ______ (one of the items mentioned above)?

Maybe, which is why it makes sense to contact your agent before you buy or build any of these things. It’s not impossible to get coverage for a home with a diving board, or a trampoline, or even a ninja warrior course, but you will have fewer carrier options to choose from.

How will insurance know if I don’t tell them?

They might not.  But omitting this info on your renewal paperwork is essentially insurance fraud. Besides that, most carriers conduct random home inspections. It’s not uncommon for them to cancel a policy after discovering an undisclosed risk or lack-of-maintenance issue. (By the way, here’s what happens when your home insurance is cancelled.)

Which insurance companies will allow Ninja Warrior backyard courses?

Hard to say… Maybe some, but it all depends on exactly what you’re installing. Massachusetts homeowners are welcome to give us a call if you want to discuss your home insurance situation: 508.339.2951

After speaking with underwriters from several different companies, we can say that none of them are thrilled about extending coverage to an extreme obstacle course. Some would be willing to review structures on a case-by-case basis, and some would flat out decline coverage to a homeowner who added anything beyond a simple swing set.

If my insurance company approves my obstacle course, will all injuries be covered?

Nope. Even if you get the greenlight to install a specific type of obstacle course in your yard, it’s important to remember that home insurance only responds to injuries for non-household members. The response is part of your liability coverage. You do not have medical coverage for your own family via your home insurance. This holds true for family member injuries in the pool, on the trampoline, and with dog bites, as well. You would need your health insurance (or out-of-pocket funds) to address these costs.

Also, key point: your home insurance policy has a personal liability limit. For the average policy, that limit rarely exceeds $500,000. And yet, unfortunately, medical bills can add up very quickly. If a neighbor ever suffered a head injury falling from your pool, trampoline, or ninja course, you might find yourself under-insured.

We recommend at least asking an agent, Do I Need Umbrella Insurance?  And get a quote to decide if it’s worth it to you. If you call us at 508.339.2951 we’ll help you answer that question and any others you have.

Happy holidays! Sorry we weren’t more enthusiastic about your ninja course.