Yard Sale Liabilities: Preventing Insurance Risks

Person's Hand Holding Yard Sale Sign in Front of HouseAs the crisp fall temperatures start to move in, you might be looking to move out some of your unwanted or excess household possessions. This time of year tends to be well-suited for hosting yard or garage sales. It’s easy enough to set up some tables, post handwritten cardboard signs around town, and name your price on items, but what many people don’t know is that there are potential risks involved in other parts of the yard sale process. So, before you go purging your cabinets, closets, and sheds, let’s review the yard sale liabilities you need to be aware of and how insurance can help.

Physical Hazards During a Yard Sale

Whenever you invite guests onto your property—be it for a yard sale or another reason—you run the risk of being at fault if they get injured. As the homeowner, you are responsible for ensuring the yard sale is hosted in a safe shopping environment. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Slips, Trips, and Falls

These are all common accidents. Know where there are cracks or potholes in the driveway and if there’s any uneven landscaping that poses a threat, then avoid setting up the yard sale in that area of your property. You can use cones and caution tape to alert people of the danger. You’ll also want to be mindful of how you arrange the sale items, as those can be tripping hazards too.

Attractive Nuisances

These are any potentially dangerous features on your property that have the capacity to lure children into unsafe situations. If you have a pool, playground, lawn equipment, or any other attractive nuisances in your yard that can put a curious child in harm’s way, you’ll want to make them as inaccessible as possible.

Pet-Related Incidents

Dog bites and other pet-related incidents account for approximately one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims. Keep your pets—yes, even the friendliest ones—secure indoors and away from customers during the sale.

Theft & Vandalism at Your Yard Sale

Though not considered liability issues, theft and vandalism are still insurance risks you open yourself up to when hosting a yard sale. Should either of these occur, your insurer would likely be able to help cover the costs. But, to better prevent the issue, you should have a partner with you during the sale, keep the house locked, and limit the amount of cash you carry. You might also consider accepting mobile payment via services like Venmo or Cash App to avoid counterfeit cash.

Other Tips for Avoiding Yard Sale Liabilities, Risks, & Claims:

  • Help customers carry larger, heavier merchandise to their cars.
  • Don’t sell any dangerous items.
  • Make sure everything you’re selling is in good working order and there aren’t any product recalls. If you’re aware of a defect in an item you’re selling that results in damages or injuries to the buyer, you could be subject to a lawsuit.
  • Watch the weather leading up to the day of the yard sale. If thunderstorms, extreme heat, or other dangerous conditions are forecasted, consider changing your date.

To read more about these liabilities, which extend beyond yard sales, check out our whitepaper, The Liability Risks Associated with Estate and Garage Sales.

Yard sales can be a wonderful way to clean the house, declutter, and make a couple of extra bucks while giving your possessions a new lease on life. As long as you’ve invested in the right insurance policies and have taken the responsible precautions, you should be financially safe. Unsure if your homeowners or renters insurance will cover you in the case of potential claims? Reach out to us, and our team of agents will be happy to review your current policy and help you choose a new one if needed.