The Liability Risks of Having a Garage Sale - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jun 15, 2022

The Liability Risks of Having a Garage Sale

Learn What Liability Risks Come Along With Hosting a Garage Sale and How To Protect Your Assets


A garage sale can be the perfect way to clean out your home while also making a little bit of money, and giving your gently used items a second chance at life. While it’s not uncommon to host a garage sale, it’s important to know that selling used items and inviting others onto your property can expose you to potential liability risks. Continue reading to learn more about the potential risks that come along with having a garage sale, and what you can do to protect yourself and your assets.


Trip and Fall Hazards

Whenever there is someone on your property, there is always the risk that they will trip or fall.  These accidents can be caused by anything from holes in the ground, cracks in your driveway, or merchandise laying the lawn. The truth is, when you have a garage sale, you have trip and fall hazards. Preventing accidents and protecting your assets is of the utmost importance. Mitigate the risk of a trip and fall accident happening at your garage sale by following these tips:


   Stage your sale on a flat section of your lawn. Be sure to steer clear of any drop-offs, elevated areas, raised concrete, or sidewalks that could cause a slip, trip, or fall.

   Make sure to repair any loose railings on your property.

   Neatly and strategically place items far enough away from one another so that there is room to move about.

   Sales tables and objects should be stable so that they cannot fall over and injure someone. Think about things like treadmills, clothing racks, ladders, etc.

   Avoid placing items too close to stairs and ledges.

   Be sure to keep all sharp objects such as knives and scissors out of the reach of children and locked away if possible.

   Refrain from selling items that you know are unsafe or hazardous, including recalled items.

Product Recalls 

Speaking of recalled items, although the general rule of thumb is “ buyer beware” when selling items during a private transaction, there are exceptions. For example, if you know there is something wrong with the item you are trying to sell, you could be held liable for damages or injuries caused by the defective item. We would suggest that you do some preliminary research or even consult with the Consumer Product Safety Commission before listing an item for sale.


Pet Incidents 

Some pets can become very protective over their owners when strangers are on their property. Even if your pet is docile, you never know what a stranger’s presence might do to trigger an act of aggression or fear. Err on the side of caution by keeping all pets inside your home for the duration of your garage sale.


Protect Yourself Financially 

Many homeowners and renters insurance policies have liability coverage as a part of the policy. This coverage will help you in the event that someone gets injured on your property. You may consider purchasing an umbrella policy for additional coverage to protect your family's assets as umbrella coverage offers an extra layer of protection above what your homeowner coverage limits cover.


One-time events that are held for the sole purpose of selling unwanted items, such as garage sales, are generally covered under a standard homeowners or renters policy. If you are having frequent garage sales, or frequently sell things online, it is important to discuss adding coverage for this business endeavor. Depending on the frequency, you may either need to add an endorsement to your homeowners policy, or purchase a separate business policy altogether. To speak with one of our trusted, local agents about a business related policy with NYCM Insurance, check out the link below!