Who’s Responsible if a Vagrant Breaks into My Backyard and Gets Hurt in My Swimming Pool?

Plus which coverage will pay for the injuries
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Intruder Hurt

Homeowners can take many precautions to protect and defend their home, but unfortunately sometimes even the most notable efforts are thwarted, and intruders find a way in. So what happens if a vagrant breaks into your backyard and injures themselves in your swimming pool? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Luckily an independent insurance agent can not only answer this question for you, but also help you get set up with the right coverage. Independent insurance agents are experienced in handling all kinds of catastrophes, so they know exactly what kind of protection you need, and they’ll get you covered long before you ever need to file a claim. Here’s how they’d help you get coverage against an intruder injuring themselves in your swimming pool.

Who’s Responsible if a Vagrant Gets Hurt in My Swimming Pool?

This may be upsetting to hear, but you as the homeowner could still get sued in this case. Even in the event of a break-in, if the intruder gets injured on your property, you as the homeowner might ultimately still be held responsible. If the vagrant presses charges against you, your insurance company would have to assess whether you took precautions to guard what they consider an “attractive nuisance,” as in your swimming pool.

Which Insurance Would Protect Me in this Scenario?

If the intruder decided to sue you for their injuries, your homeowners insurance would respond to the claim. Policyholders have what’s considered by homeowners insurance companies as the lowest “obligation of care” to trespassers on their property. This means that you as a homeowner legally owe the lowest degree of consideration and protection to those who break into or trespass on your property.

That being said, your insurance company will still be concerned with whether or not you provided an unsafe premises around your swimming pool. You may still end up being found guilty for the intruder’s injuries if it’s determined that you did not take precautions to safeguard your pool area, though you’re likely to end up with a much lower settlement in this case than if you were sued by a guest you invited into your home.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners insurance provides a lot of important protection for homeowners, including for situations in which there’s a break-in or trespassing. The main areas of coverage provided by standard homeowners policies include:

  • Structural damage: Covers the “dwelling,” or structure of the home. Damage to or destruction of the dwelling by covered perils such as certain natural disasters or fire is covered. Detached structures like sheds are often covered, too.
  • Personal property damage: Covers personal belongings like furniture, collectibles, clothing, and more from perils such as fire or theft. Property stored off-premises is often covered too, though with a much lower limit.
  • Additional living expenses: Covers extra costs if your home gets badly damaged or destroyed, forcing you to live elsewhere while awaiting repairs. Reimbursement for things like hotel rooms, eating out, extra gas mileage, and more is covered. Additional living expenses makes up the difference in spending to maintain your normal lifestyle while living away from the home.
  • Liability: Covers legal expenses like attorney/court fees if you’re sued for bodily injury or property damage to a third party. Settlements you’re ordered to pay if you lose the case are covered, too.

Your independent insurance agent can help you get set up with all the homeowners insurance you need to adequately protect your home from all kinds of catastrophes, not just break-ins.

How Would Liability Coverage Protect Me from in this Scenario?

If the vagrant who broke into your backyard got really injured in your swimming pool and was upset (and brave) enough to press charges against you, your homeowners insurance would come to your defense. Your homeowners policy would reimburse you for legal and court fees, including paying your attorney and any settlements you may be responsible for if you’re found guilty. The intruder would also rely on their own liability coverage to hire their attorney.

Though you may think your backyard is pretty safe, it’s still important to have ample coverage to protect against potential third-party injuries. The court may not ultimately find you to be guilty for the intruder’s injuries, but it’s a safe bet to be covered up front, anyway. As long as you didn’t purposefully set a trap for the intruder, your homeowners policy would help protect you in case of an incident like this one.

Do I Need Umbrella Insurance?

Depending on the extent of the intruder’s injuries, if you’re found guilty in court, umbrella insurance could really help you. Umbrella policies are made to stack on top of homeowners insurance to extend liability coverage limits. Umbrella policies usually come with limits of $1 million in liability coverage, though higher amounts such as $5 or $10 million can also be purchased. Another upside to umbrella insurance is that it tends to be very affordable.

When Is Umbrella Coverage Absolutely Necessary?

You won’t always be in a situation in which an intruder gets injured on your property, but there are still many other common costly incidents that require umbrella coverage. A few of the most common pricey lawsuits against homeowners include the following:

  • Hired help injuries: If a domestic worker, such as a maid or gardener, gets injured on your property due to your failure to maintain a safe premises, the resulting lawsuit and medical payments required could be really expensive.
  • Icy sidewalk injuries: Not everyone’s legally required to maintain their sidewalk based on local ordinances, but injuries on icy sidewalks are a common case filed against homeowners.
  • Fallen trees: If a tree on your property falls and damages your neighbor’s home, the resulting damages could easily reach into the ten-thousands.
  • Intoxicated guests: If one of your parties gets a little too rowdy, you as the homeowner would be held responsible for any property damage or bodily injuries an intoxicated guest causes to other guests.
  • Dog bites: Dog bites are among the most common and costly risks homeowners have to prepare for. Especially since settlements for dog bite injuries average $30,000.

For these common and costly catastrophes, umbrella insurance is crucial. Your independent insurance agent can help you determine how much coverage is right for you to protect against any unforeseen incidents.


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What if I, or the Intruder, Don’t Have Insurance?

If neither you nor the intruder have liability coverage, you’d likely have to settle the incident on your own terms. Hiring a lawyer without insurance to help reimburse you for the fees can be a huge hassle and simply unaffordable for many folks. Also, in the event you’re found guilty by the court and have to pay out a settlement, that could easily lead to bankruptcy.

The intruder may not have the means to press charges against you if they don’t have their own liability coverage. That being said, if they had coverage and you didn’t, you could be in a lot of trouble. To avoid the possibility of dealing with costly lawsuits out of your own pocket, talk to your independent insurance agent about getting all the homeowners and liability insurance you need well in advance.

What Else Does Homeowners Insurance Protect Against?

Break-ins and lawsuits aren’t the only important protections offered by homeowners insurance.  Standard homeowners insurance covers many common threats to the home outside of the common or obvious.

Homeowners insurance often provides coverage for the following perils:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Fire and smoke
  • Water damage
  • Aircraft or vehicle damage
  • Most explosions
  • Riots and civil commotions
  • Falling objects (and trees)
  • Certain natural disasters (i.e., windstorms, hail, lightning, and blizzards)

Your independent insurance agent can help you secure coverage for any areas you’re concerned are still lacking. They’ll get your home set up with all the protection it needs to help you sleep easier at night.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting against intruder injuries on your property and all other strange incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners, liability, and umbrella insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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