Pokémon has been around for two decades, evolving from a pair of games into an entire franchise that includes manga, anime, games, and collectibles. There’s probably more than a few of you who have the original Pokémon cards hidden somewhere in your attic or in a box in the basement. The latest iteration of Pokémon is Pokémon Go. Users download an app to their phone or tablet, then get their shoes on and get out of the house – answering the prayer of millions of parents worldwide as their children are out on summer vacation. Adults who once collected the cards are getting in on the fun as well. Users get to discover and catch the Pokémon right there in their home towns.
It’s a lot of fun, no matter how old you are.
However – and were not trying to be downers – there are some insurance issues involved. The law of unintended consequences is not diverted by Pokémon. There may be injuries and property damage resulting from trying to catch them all, in addition to car accidents, skateboard accidents, and even walking off a cliff. Unfortunately there have even been robberies related to playing the game, where players were lured to remote locations and robbed. There is also the possibility of identity theft and cybercrime.
Personal injury and property damage are covered under homeowners insurance policies. Unfortunately in some jurisdictions people who trespass onto private property in order to obtain a Pokémon and are injured as a result, can still sue the homeowner, or business for their injury if the property is deemed to be in an unsafe condition. Additionally, people driving and playing Pokémon Go at the same time may be subject to distracted driving laws that prohibit texting or talking on a device while operating a motor vehicle. In the event of identity theft or cybercrime, insurance policies can reimburse victims for the costs associated with those crimes, including credit report corrections, and regaining their identity.
There is also some liability on the part of Nintendo and Niantic Incorporated. Certain properties have been designated as Pokémon training gyms, generally without the permission or knowledge of the property owners. In some cases hundreds of players have showed up at these places trying to catch their Pokémon. Although many online entities issue terms of service and disclaimers that users must sign in order to download, activate, and use the application, it is fair to say that not every contingency will be covered and that some losses and injuries will be incurred.
If you want to get in on the action, by all means play, but take precautions and use some common sense when it comes to pursuing your Pokémon. Private property is and should be off-limits without the consent and permission of the property owner. Likewise, even in a public place take precautions to ensure your safety and that of others. Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of what you’re doing in relation to the movement of other people, and play it safe.