Installing a hot tub is a pretty substantial investment, but it can offer you many years of enjoyment and relaxation if it’s well cared for. Even so, unexpected events like wind and storms can happen, which can result in serious damage to the tub. If you live in a region where low temperatures can be a problem, there’s also the chance that your tub could be damaged by the water freezing inside it. If that happens, it can be an unwelcome surprise to learn that your insurance company won’t cover those damages.
Liability Versus Property Damage
Homeowner’s insurance, like most other kinds of property insurance, protects you in two main ways. The first way is in terms of liability. It’s meant to protect you in the event that someone is injured on your property and sues you, for example. In the case of a hot tub, the liability component of your policy would come into play if someone were to slip and fall in the tub, or God forbid, drown. A frozen tub, however, wouldn’t fall under that category; instead, that’s considered property damage, and may or may not be covered under your particular policy.
Check Your Policy
The most common homeowner’s insurance policies are what the industry calls “HO-3” policies. They cover pretty much everything except a specific list of named perils, which are called exclusions. Floods, earthquakes and mold are standard exclusions, but there are others, too. That being said, most insurance companies will only cover your hot tub under the liability side of your policy, protecting you in the event that a guest is injured while using it. They might not cover physical damage -- such as pipes that cracked because water froze inside them -- unless you have a specific addition to your policy to cover it. Policies can vary by company and state however, so there’s no substitute for a one-on-one conversation with your agent to get the facts.
When In Doubt, Talk It Out
The trouble with most insurance-related questions is that they don’t often come up until it’s too late. You probably remember some of the horror stories that came out of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There were lots of people who thought they were covered by their insurance, only to find out that they weren’t. The best way to avoid that situation with your hot tub is to talk to your agent before something bad happens. He or she will be able to tell you definitively what your policy does and doesn’t cover, and help you get the right coverage for your situation, if it's available.
An Ounce of Prevention
Insurance usually only comes into play once you’ve suffered a loss, but as the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Even if you find that your policy won’t cover physical damage to your hot tub resulting from freezing, it’s not the end of the world. A hot tub will normally only freeze if the water stops circulating, either from a power outage or some sort of blockage or component failure. In the event that your tub stops working, an inexpensive ceramic heater can keep the pipes from freezing and cracking until the problem can be identified and repaired.
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