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Pokemon Liability

Pokemon Liability


Pokemon Go has become an international phenomenon, the mobile game where people can walk around and “catch” virtual Pokemon in the real world. From hatching Pokemon eggs while walking to battling it out at Poke gyms, the game has inspired several generations to get outside and get exercise.

There is a downside to the game, however. People are getting robbed, beaten, & even injured while playing the innocent game.

While the game maker has done a little to help promote safety within the game (warnings appear while the game boots reminding players not to play while driving & be aware of their surroundings), property owners find themselves with a big liability issue as far as insurance when it comes to zealous players out to “catch’em all”.

The game falls under what the insurance industry calls an “Attractive Nuisance”, which is a legal term as defined by Wikipedia as:

“The attractive nuisance doctrine states that a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by an object on the land that is likely to attract children.”

It states children, but can also apply to adults as well. The more well-known “attractive nuisances” in the insurance industry are equipment such as swimming pools, trampolines, & as of late – zip lines. Such equipment is often excluded from liability insurance coverage or precautions are required for coverage to be extended to them. Many insurance companies require fences to be erected around the equipment to help control who has access to it and to help cut down on property trespassing.

With Pokemon Go, however, since it is a “virtual” game that takes place in the real world, it is difficult for a property or business owner to protect themselves from avid players looking for Pokemon. One homeowner has gone so far as to start a class-action lawsuit against the game makers because of the amount of traffic his property has received due to the game.

While you might think the homeowner is just a crotchety old man that doesn’t like kids, his concern is really a valid one. For property owners, the liability insurance covers just about anything that could occur on their property – even if it isn’t their fault.

Most home/condo/mobile home/renter policies offer 2 separate liability coverages. The first being Personal Liability which coverage value ranges from $50,000 all the way up to $1,000,000. This coverage comes into effect when you are found liable for someone’s injuries on the property. Not properly maintaining a walkway where someone falls down and similar scenarios are an example where Personal Liability comes into play.

The other coverage, and the one most-likely to pay out in Pokemon Go-related incidents, is the Medical Payments to Others. This is essentially a no-fault coverage, in that neither party needs to be found at fault for the injury in order to receive coverage. This coverage often starts out at $500 and can often be raised to $10,000. I have seen instances where a fight between neighborhood gangs ended up on an owner’s property and the injured person from the fight received $1,000 from the property owner’s home insurance policy. Another where a homeless man was beaten on the front lawn of a home, the owner was not home at the time, and he received $1,000 for the injuries he sustained. Both of these were covered under the Medical Payments to Others coverage on the property owner’s insurance policy.

So you can see how the game Pokemon Go could be a big liability issue for property owners. There unfortunately isn’t much that can be done to protect the property owner from such claims, but there are steps that can be taken to avoid turning a Medical Payments to Others claim into a Personal Liability claim.

  1. check your property and make sure there are no hazards present. Maintain the yard, getting rid of debris or other objects that can be tripped over, fill any holes in the lawn, tamp down any hilly areas.
  2. post at least one “no trespassing” sign in an obvious place where someone can easily see it.
  3. If you’re a business owner and you wish to protect your business liability, post a “No Pokemon Go Playing Inside Business” sign in the front door/window of your establishment.

Pokemon Go is a great game for kids and adults to get exercises, converse, & have fun with. But with that fun comes responsibility, be safe.


Contact Us!

At Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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