Protect Yourself from Risks of Holding Yard, Garage Sales

As the weather warms up and people finish their spring-cleaning chores, many decide to hold a yard or garage sale to get rid of excess stuff and pocket a bit of cash in the process.

While a yard sale may transform those cleaning efforts into a profitable day of getting rid of unwanted items, it can also create a setting for a legal nightmare if a visitor injures themselves while on your property. If anyone that’s stopped by your sale slips, trips, falls or is injured by one of your items, it could lead to a lawsuit.

Any yard or garage sale being held on your property would usually be covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, in the case of any potential claims. As the restrictions between carriers can vary, it is best to call us to check if your insurer has any regarding holding a sale on your property.

Most standard homeowner’s policies will provide $100,000 worth of liability coverage for property damage or bodily injury that is caused to others by those living in the home. The coverage amount can be used to cover your legal defense and any resulting monetary judgments against you.

No-fault medical coverage is another feature of your homeowner’s insurance liability protection. It usually provides between $1,000 to $5,000 worth of coverage. This feature can help you avoid lawsuits from a person injured on your property since it will allow them to directly submit their medical-related bills to your insurer for payment.

The above may seem adequate for a yard sale, but given today’s litigious mentality, it might be prudent for you to add to your liability protection. You might consider raising your homeowner’s policy liability coverage to at least $300,000 to $500,000, depending on your specific needs and property.

An excess liability or umbrella policy can provide yet more protection and won’t typically cost more than $350 a year for $1 million in liability coverage.

The exception

Your homeowner’s policy may cover your garage sale if it’s a one-time event, but not if it’s a regular thing.

If you are holding frequent yard sales, like multiple times a month, the insurer may consider your activity a home-based business and deny a claim.

To avoid that scenario, the best course of action would be to look into buying a home-based business or commercial policy, depending on your foot traffic, to ensure coverage of any incidents. Call us to discuss your circumstances so we can find the best solution for you.

Tips for a safe yard sale

While your homeowner’s insurance would likely cover injuries to your garage sale shoppers, the best policy is to provide a safe environment to reduce risks. You may want to consider:

  • Displaying merchandise in an organized manner on sturdy tables, making sure to eliminate any potential tripping hazards, like extension cords and items lying on the ground.
  • Keeping your pets indoors or in the backyard during the sale. Even friendly dogs can get territorial when strangers are at your home.
  • Repairing any loose railings or cracked concrete that could be a possible hazard for customers.
  • Not selling alone. Instead, have your spouse, another family member or a friend with you to keep track of items and help customers. 
  • Not selling dangerous items like knives, swords, firearms, martial arts weapons, fireworks, etc.
  • Helping customers carry or move any larger items purchased to their vehicle. 
  • Holding your sale on a weekend with nice weather, making sure to have sale times clearly listed. 
  • Providing shade and water for visitors if it’s a hot day.

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