Trampolines and Other Attractive Dangers in Your Yard

While trampolines may offer hours of fun for energetic children, they bring unwanted safety risks to homeowners.

In 1934, University of Iowa gymnast George Nissen and his coach, Larry Griswold, were searching for a way to help Nissen improve his gymnastics training. Working out of Nissen’s garage, the duo built a bouncing device by connecting a steel frame to a canvas sheet using rubber inner tubes. They named the apparatus a “trampoline,” after the Spanish word for “diving board.” They later founded the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company in hopes of selling the trampolines commercially. The year was 1942.

Fast forward to now, and the trampoline has become a popular recreational item in homes. About 500,000 trampolines are sold each year, according to a study published in the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health. But while trampolines may offer hours of fun for energetic children, they bring unwanted safety risks to homeowners.

In fact, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons have issued policy statements and recommendations strongly discouraging home use of trampolines due to the high incidence of trampoline-related injuries.

The numbers speak for themselves. In the United States, there are more than 250,000 medically treated trampoline injuries each year. These result in more than 100,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And over 90% of these injuries occur in kids ages five to 14.

Why are trampolines so dangerous? Simply put, what makes bouncing acrobatically so much fun also makes it extremely hazardous. Throw in the fact that multiple children tend to use trampolines simultaneously, and it’s no wonder the activity results in arm and leg sprains and fractures, as well as serious head and neck injuries.

The leading causes of injury are:

  • Colliding with another person
  • Landing incorrectly while jumping, flipping, somersaulting or attempting tricks
  • Falling off the trampoline
  • Landing on top of the trampoline’s springs or frame
Other attractive nuisances

Insurance companies consider trampolines, swimming pools, playground sets, treehouses, ponds and fountains, among other things, to be “attractive nuisances.” An attractive nuisance is a potentially hazardous item on one’s property that can attract or lure children.

Because trampolines, swimming pools and playgrounds are especially appealing and enticing to young children, they’re a red flag for many insurance companies. As a result, some insurers may refuse to cover these pieces of equipment, while others allow them only if specific accommodations are made. Such accommodations can include:

  • Building fences and installing locked gates around the equipment
  • Padding the trampoline frame and springs
  • Digging out the ground under the trampoline to place the bouncing surface at ground level instead of several feet above the ground

It’s also common for insurance companies to cover your home but exclude liability for the risky item. They may refuse to cover any medical bills or lawsuit expenses related to the use of the equipment, unless you purchase an insurance rider with specialized coverage. You’ll also want to consider increasing your liability insurance limits or obtaining coverage under a personal umbrella insurance policy. An umbrella adds significant financial protection to your standard homeowners coverage.

Going without coverage can make you appear riskier to some companies. And don’t let your policy lapse in a hard market, either. Some companies will take it as an opportunity to drop you for good, leaving you scrambling for coverage. Sign up for auto pay to ensure your payments are made on time.

Important safety rules

If you have a trampoline or another type of equipment that could be considered an attractive nuisance, follow these safety rules:

  • Install fencing or an enclosure and lock it when there’s no adult supervision.
  • Cover frames, springs, hooks and landing surfaces with shock-absorbing pads. 
  • Place trampolines and other similar equipment far from other structures, trees, play areas and other hazards.
  • Regularly examine all equipment for wear and tear, sharp objects, trip-and-fall hazards and other potential sources of injury.
  • Post notices of hazards, but don’t rely on them. Children attracted to your equipment might not be able to read and certainly will not be held accountable for lack of adherence.
  • Don’t allow potentially risky stunts on your equipment.
  • Install alarms to alert you if someone has entered an unsafe area without permission.
  • Use proper lighting to avoid nighttime accidents.

If you’re considering getting a trampoline, a pool, a playhouse or another attractive nuisance, familiarize yourself with the liability risks associated with your decision. While these items can provide hours of fun for energetic children, they require a substantial investment in security, both physical and financial.

Your insurance professional can help you find coverage that matches your exposure. They can also help with risk management suggestions so you can enjoy your yard safely.

For more information

Looking for more information or a coverage review? Reach out to our Personal Insurance team.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

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