A yard sale is a great way to rid your home of unwanted items and potentially make a little money at the same time. In fact, homeowners commonly put on yard sales once a year or when moving from one home to another for those very reasons. However, before conducting your sale, you should review your home insurance policy to make sure you have adequate liability insurance because inviting strangers onto your property, even if it’s just your front yard, puts you at risk for personal liability claims.
The first part of your policy you should review is the personal liability coverage. You are hoping for a successful event, which means many potential buyers could be on your property. Each of these buyers also poses a liability risk to you should they be injured at your sale. A personal injury claim can be very expensive, so it’s necessary to consider the total possible risk and determine if your personal liability limits are sufficient. Standard home insurance policies often provide only $100,000 of coverage, but a serious injury claim can easily exceed that amount. Consider increasing your policy’s limit or purchase an umbrella policy that will provide additional limits of coverage. It’s a good idea to have an umbrella policy regardless of your yard sale so consider the yard sale the motivation to get additional limits.
In addition to having adequate liability insurance limits, you need to understand if your policy will actually cover you for a yard sale. An infrequent or annual sale is likely not an issue within your home insurance policy. However, if you plan on holding events regularly, your insurance company may consider your yard sales to be akin to a business activity. Standard home insurance policies exclude any claims arising out of business pursuits. In this situation, you need to purchase a policy specifically for your regular yard sale events, as your home insurance policy will not cover you.
Regardless of how you insure your yard sale, there are some steps you can take to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Even though insurance is great protection in the event something unfortunate happens, the best outcome is one where there are no claims at all. In an article published by the Amherst Patch, some safety suggestions include avoiding tripping hazards like bundling power cords from appliances on the ground, and to display items on stable tables so that they are less likely to fall. In addition, shoppers at a yard sale may be distracted by the items you have on display and are probably not carefully watching where they are walking, so instead of leaving items haphazardly on your lawn, try to arrange them in neat rows, creating wide walkways for shoppers.
Since you are not regularly in the business of selling, you probably don’t have display cases and instead are displaying items on folding tables. Keep in mind that overloading these tables with too much merchandise is also dangerous, as they can fall and cause injury, particularly to children who may have strayed from their bargain-hunting parents. This also brings up a point about the items you intend to sell. It’s usually not a good idea to sell safety-related items, particularly those intended for use by children, such as car seats, cribs, and strollers. Manufacturers of these goods are held to very stringent standards and you may be bringing on more liability by unwittingly selling an item that is no longer up to current standards.