As August begins, so does yard sale season! August 8th marks the nineteenth National Garage Sale Day, and Team LA wants to make sure you are covered in the case that something were to happen while hosting a yard or garage sale. In the United States, there are around 165,000 yard sales per week, bringing in 4 million dollars of revenue in seven days. Sounds pretty great, right? Well, the cost of an average personal injury for slips and falls costs $189,000, and the average personal injury jury award is over $800,000.
You might be asking yourself, How on Earth could someone get hurt that bad at a yard sale? There are many risks you probably haven’t considered because you see and deal with them every day. This could simply be a crack in the path leading up to your front door or a wobbly handrail to your porch.
So, to keep everyone involved safe, here are some risk management tips to consider before advertising a yard sale:
· Address sidewalk, patio, or railing issues. Make visitors aware of these potential hazards by putting up a sign or asking them to watch their step upon arrival.
· Place items far enough apart to prevent tripping hazards.
· Keep your pets inside. Even well-behaved pets can act out when strangers are around. And if a shopper isn’t paying attention, your furry friend could be tripped over.
· Assume that children will be present, and keep dangerous items out of reach.
One last safety precaution to practice is social distancing. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s imperative that social distancing is provided and encouraged.
Another thing to consider is what can and cannot be sold at a yard sale. In 2008 the President signed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, making it illegal to sell recalled products, baby cribs manufactured before June of 2011, and a number of other regulations. It’s also illegal to give away these items. Additionally, items that are unsafe should also not be sold, including anything with comprised electrical parts. One law firm explains that when you purchase an item from a private garage sale, it falls under the doctrine of caveat emptor or “buyer beware.” However, it is important that you do not knowingly sell something that could be dangerous to others; if you do, and the buyer was harmed, you might be liable. Some items are never allowed to be resold, like mattresses and car seats.
The good news is that if you have homeowners or renters policy, you will have personal liability protection included; however, you always want to make sure you have at least $300,000 in coverage. If you’re hosting a larger sale with greater foot traffic, you will want to consider higher limits and a personal umbrella policy. There are also exclusions to what is covered and what isn’t, and unendorsed personal liability coverage typically excludes any business pursuits. So generally, one garage or yard sale per year shouldn’t be considered a business; however, any more frequency than that, or any involvement with flea markets warrants a call to your insurance agent for advisement.
If you sell goods that you or someone you know have made, including food, these sales can be lumped under a business, which means you may need additional insurance.
In the case that you’re planning on selling items at a flea market or swap meet, your homeowners or renters liability coverage does not apply. You will need separate coverage, which can be purchased through the organizers of the events or your own insurer.
Yard sales are not as simple as they sound, so remember to put a little thought into setting up a sale next time, know what you’re selling, and make sure you’re covered. Below are several links to more resources and information on all of these topics.
For Information on Yard Sales and Liability:
For Information on What Can/Can’t Be Sold at Sales and Selling Guidelines:
For Anyone Thinking of Renting a Space at a Flea Market:
Statistics on Garage Sales: