Make Your Yard Sale Safe

What's the perfect way to de-clutter your home, condo or apartment and make some cash at the same yard saletime? A yard sale, of course.

However, you could be bringing more trouble than you bargained for if a visitor gets hurt on your property and decides to sue, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

"Somebody could slip and fall in your front yard and you could be legally liable," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president for the Insurance Information Institute. "Check with your agent or company to be sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case you're sued."

The Institute noted that many people do not realize they have no-fault medical coverage as part of the liability protection in their standard homeowners or renters policy. This allows someone who gets injured on the insured property to simply submit his or her medical bills to your insurance company without resorting to a lawsuit. Most policies include about $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this coverage. That coverage does not pay medical bills for the insured's family or pets.

Consumers wishing to obtain additional liability coverage can increase the amount of liability insurance on their home or apartment to $300,000 or $500,000. Those who need even more liability coverage in order to protect their assets can also consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy.

The Insurance Information Institute offers the following guidelines for yard-sale entrepreneurs:

One-time event: Yard sales that are one-time events for the sole purpose of selling unwanted personal items are generally covered under a standard homeowners or renters policy. However, it is important to have enough coverage, so be sure to check with your insurance agent or company representative.

Frequent yard sales: If the property owner has frequent yard sales, it is a good idea to purchase a separate policy for business liability or an in-home business policy. These policies are available from many homeowners insurance companies and specialty insurers that sell standalone in-home business policies.

Charity Fund Raiser: If the property owner is staging a sale to raise money for a charity, they will most likely be covered under the homeowners or renters insurance policy. But they can also contact the charity to see what type of insurance protection they would be willing to extend if necessary.

In addition to checking insurance coverage, property owners or unit owners should plan the sale with safety in mind:

  • Repair loose railings and cracked concrete which may cause injuries.
  • Place sale items so that there is enough space to move about without tripping.
  • Avoid placing items too close to stairs and ledges where people could fall.
  • Do not sell items that you know are unsafe or hazardous.

Article courtesy of The Standard magazine, volume 267, number 9.