Seller Beware: Yard Sales Pose Potential Liability Risk

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HAMILTON – Warmer temperatures make for the perfect time for homeowners to clear clutter and even make a little money by having a yard sale. However, many yard sale hosts fail to realize that they could be held liable should a shopper incur an injury on their property.

“It’s imperative for homeowners and renters to protect themselves with adequate insurance coverage, especially in a situation where strangers will be on the property such as a yard sale,” says Sue Madden, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Hamilton. “Homeowners should also take the proper safety precautions to prevent any injury or damage that could occur on their property, thereby reducing their risk of liability.”

To help minimize homeowners’ and renters’ risks of holding a sale, AAA Insurance offers the following dos and don’ts of insurance for yard sales:

  • Do have homeowners or renters insurance. Most standard home and renters insurance policies will generally provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage. This will protect against a lawsuit should someone get injured on your property. Additionally, these policies typically offer between $1,000 and $5,000 in no-fault medical coverage.
  • Do consider additional insurance. Depending on the asset value, additional liability insurance or an umbrella policy, which provides more coverage, may be worth considering. Consult with your insurance agent to determine which would best suit your insurance needs.
  • Don’t rely on homeowners insurance if you have yard sales frequently. If you have yard sales several times a year, it’s wise to purchase a separate policy for business liability or an in-home business policy. These are available from many homeowners’ insurance companies, such as AAA, as well as specialty insurers that sell stand-alone in-home business policies.

To ensure your patrons can shop safely, AAA Insurance also suggests taking the following precautions during a yard sale:

  • Do keep pets indoors, for their safety and the safety of others, Dogs with a prior biting history or with ancestry classified as vicious are typically excluded from insurance coverage.
  • Don’t sell items known to be hazardous or unsafe, such as recalled items. Selling an item that is banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, could lead to fines and penalties.
  • Do allow enough space in between items to prevent tripping or falls.
  • Don’t place items too close to stairs and ledges where people could fall.
  • Do keep sharp objects such as knives and scissors out of reach of children.

“Before holding any type of even on your property, such as a yard sale, it’s a good idea to consult your insurance agent to discuss possible risks,” said Madden.

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