Trampolines and hoverboards are among the hottest holiday toys this year, in part, because of the thrill of the ride. But that element of danger comes at a price if your insurance agent has something to say about it.
This holiday season, a quick-folding indoor trampoline for 6-year-olds and a skateboard without wheels made the short list of , according to the U.S.-based consumer watchdog, World Against Toys Causing Harm. W.A.T.C.H. said both the Quick Folding Trampoline by Toys 'R Us and the Kick Flipper by PlaSmart posed the risk of head and neck injury if a child falls.
Of course, the sought-after hoverboard — similar to a Segway but lacking a handlebar — is this year's newest novelty and one that begs others to try, which goes not just for your children, but also your children's friends and anyone else who steps into your house and decides to give it a whirl.
Once those types of potentially hazardous gifts are unwrapped, experts say your first call should be to your insurance agent.
Just having dangerous toys at home doesn't cause your insurance rate to rise, but the insurer may want to take a closer look at your home and your policy, according to Justin Herndon, a spokesman for Allstate Insurance Co.
"Your rates don't go up for having those items in your household but you may lose eligibility," said Eric Kollevoll, owner of Kollevoll & Associates, an independent insurance agency in Pennington, New Jersey.
When it comes time to renew your policy, the insurance company can factor in those types of hazards before deciding whether to continue to insure the property.
Some insurance companies may opt not to renew your policy or deny new applicants coverage altogether because children's toys such as backyard trampolines are so potentially dangerous, Kollevoll said.
"You are putting yourself at odds with the insurance industry," he said. Ultimately, "you could potentially lose that carrier as your home insurer."
It's not so much the child of the homeowner getting hurt, it's the child's friend, Kollevoll explained. "When friends play on that equipment, there's a big area of liability."
Anyone injured in your home would typically be covered by your home insurance policy's medical payments and liability coverage. Depending on your limit, medical payments would cover the cost of the medical bills that result from an accident.
However, if there is a serious injury it could escalate into litigation against the homeowner, Kollevoll said, in which case, the monetary damages could skyrocket and your liability coverage, if sufficient, kicks in.
"If it's a severe injury, it gets to be litigious and that's something for every family to consider," he said.
"If you have a lot of toys where people can get injured, get as much no-fault medical as you can, and you probably want to get more liability coverage," cautioned Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.
"You need to have enough liability protection to protect your assets, and it's relatively inexpensive," Salvatore said. For another $200-$300 a year, you can purchase an additional $1 million in excess liability protection, she suggested.
In addition, "it is important that you note these items in your home inventory," Salvatore advised, because, if broken, they could also be expensive to replace.
Kollevoll also advises his clients to increase the excess liability on their home policy or purchase an additional umbrella policy as another relatively inexpensive way to increase coverage. Either way, make sure the coverage is in place before the next guest arrives.
"If your house is party central and your kids have their friends over often, make sure you have additional liability protection just in case somebody gets hurt," Salvatore said, "because stuff does happen."