There has been much discussion and many questions lately related to the Swimming Pool Accessibility Requirements, due in large part to the compliance date being January 31, 2013.  Many of our Brokers want to make sure that their Hotel and Motel Insured’s are compliant with the new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)  regulations, published by the Department of Justice.  The revised regulations address the Standards for Accessible Design, which has specific requirements for recreational facilities, including swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.  This directly affects hotels and motels and apartment complexes.

“Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation, including many private businesses.  Title III requires newly constructed and altered business facilities to be fully accessible to    people with disabilities, applying the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  In addition, Title III requires businesses to remove accessibility barriers in existing facilities when doing so is readily achievable.

The 2010 Standards require that newly constructed or altered swimming pools, wading pools, and spas have an accessible way for people with disabilities to enter and exit the pool.   The Standards also provide technical specifications for when a means of entry is accessible, such as, for pool lifts, the location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, and clear floor space.” (1.)

This Requirement is raising concern in the Insurance Industry due to the fact that the ADA as been unclear (to date) about when facilities will be required to install a pool or will be exempt. As such, many insurance carriers are considering a variety of changes to their underwriting guidelines for pools at hotels, motels and apartment complexes. Further, some carriers will not write a hotel with a pool that does not have lift installed for the pool.

The first question I want to discuss is what are the requirements for existing pools.  It seems the ADA is only requiring businesses to make existing pools accessible only when it is “readily achievable” to do so.  What does this mean?!  It means that you can easily do this, without too much money or difficulty. This is the answer, which as you can see does not give you a clear path of what is required or not required.  So, basically if you cannot afford a “fixed” lift, they ask you provide a “portable” lift.  If providing a “portable” lift is also not readily achievable, then they ask you to make a plan to achieve compliance when it is readily achievable. Also, if you cannot proved either lift, do you have to close your pool?  The answer is No the department says you do not have to close your pool.

The next issue at hand is what do newly constructed or altered swimming pools need.

“The 2010 Standards explain whether a newly constructed or altered pool needs to have one or two accessible means of entry and exit.  Section 242 provides that large pools (pools with 300 linear feet of pool wall or more) must have two accessible means of entry and exit. One means of entry/exit must be a fixed pool lift or sloped entry; the other entry can be a transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs.  Small pools (pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall) must provide at least one accessible means of entry/exit, which must be either a fixed pool lift or a sloped entry.   

The 2010 Standards also provide details about what features an accessible means of entry or exit should have.  Specifically, section 1009 addresses the location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, and clear floor space required for fixed pool lifts, as well as the requirements for sloped entries, transfer walls, transfer systems, and pool stairs.”  The 2010 Standards require that new or altered wading pools have a sloped entry. New or altered spas must have at least one accessible means of entry, which may be a transfer wall, a transfer system, or a pool lift.  (1.)

It seems these new regulations will impact newly constructed or altered swimming pools the most.  They will have to make sure that their pools are compliant with all the new Sections listed above in the 2010 Standards. Information about ADA requirements is available at  

Implementation of new standards never seems to be simple or uniform, but the result of everyone being able to access a pool, whether you are disabled or not will happen (and should happen) in the safest way possible. We here at McGowan Program Administrators are happy to answer any questions you have, to the best of our ability.



Timothy G. Lee AAI
Vice President — Underwriting


Information about McGowan Programs and products is available at or or by calling Tim Lee ( at 800.545.1538.   If you have any questions about umbrellas or our package program for apartments please contact an underwriter at McGowan to discuss coverage options.  For real estate & hospitality, please ask to speak to Tim Lee.  He will always be happy to talk to you about any concerns or questions you have.