The backyard skating rink is a beloved tradition for families across the country. It calls to mind memories of lacing up skates on chilly winter nights, shooting the puck around with friends, then sipping hot cocoa and snuggling up by a crackling fire. If you’re tempted to bring back your childhood in the form of a DIY ice rink, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t covered under your home insurance policy and take the right measures to protect yourself in case anything goes wrong.
Like a swimming pool, a skating rink increases the chances of someone getting injured on your property or causing damage to a neighbour’s property. What if someone slips and breaks a leg? What if your kid accidentally shoots a puck through your neighbour’s window? Or what if your rink floods your neighbour’s yard when it melts in the spring? Even if someone gets hurt after sneaking into your yard for a late-night skate, you could still be considered responsible. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have enough third-party liability coverage on your home insurance policy to protect you if you’re held liable for an injury or property damage. If you’re planning on building a skating rink on your property, ask your home insurance broker if your existing coverage is enough, or if they recommend increasing your liability limit for this new risk.
To avoid injuries and other incidents that could lead to liability claims, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and lay out some rules for your rink. Before you even begin building your rink, you should carefully inspect the area you’re planning on icing and ensure that it doesn’t slope towards a neighbour’s house (in case it causes a minor flood in the spring). If your plan is to use your rink for hockey practice, you should install boards around it to prevent pucks from flying where they shouldn’t. And as far as rules go, you could require visitors to wear helmets and other safety equipment (like knee and elbow pads) while on the ice, and only allow kids to use the ice with adult supervision.
While most homeowners who install ice rinks plan to safely drain or pump the water away at the end of the season, a rapid melt could lead to a flood in your yard — or worse, in your basement. Most basic home insurance policies only include limited coverage for water damage (generally for things like burst pipes or malfunctioning appliances), so damage caused by your melted rink likely wouldn’t be covered. Even if you’ve added overland water coverage to your policy, your claim may still be denied, as this is typically designed to protect against damage caused by natural spring runoff and overflow of nearby bodies of water. Before you build your rink, contact your home insurance broker to find out if your own policy would protect your home in the event that your melting rink causes water damage.
When you’re thinking about building an ice rink in your backyard, it’s important to ask yourself whether or not your yard (and your home) are equipped to handle the amount of water involved. If you know your basement has been leaky in the past or that water tends to pool easily in your yard when the snow starts to melt, it’s probably not the best idea to add even more water to your yard in the form of a rink. But if you don’t have a reason to be especially concerned about leaking and you decide to go ahead with building a rink, be sure to set it up in an area that doesn’t slope towards your home.
Before you get started on your backyard ice rink, contact us to discuss your plans. We can help you review your coverage and explain any potential concerns or gaps you should be aware of when it comes to protecting you from rink-related mishaps.