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Liability Concerns When Your Home is on the Market

Posted by Sharon Rosshirt on Monday, November 6th, 2017 at 9:43am.

Home sellers and investors ask us from time to time about their liability if someone gets hurt while looking at a home they have on the market. It’s a question best answered by an insurance professional, and we’ve asked Pamala Green, a trusted Farmers agent, to help us answer that question for you:

Home insurance is designed to protect your home against damages to the house itself or the possessions in the home. The average premises liability award over the past few years is approximately $584,000. Home insurance provides liability coverage against accidents on or off the premises of the home. Medical payments in the policy pay for medical costs for people injured at your residence (other than residents of your household) regardless of who’s liable. Then liability covers you when you’re legally liable for someone else’s bodily injury or property damage resulting from an accident, negligent acts by you or household members – on or off premises. Included are:

a)      costs to resolve claims or defend lawsuits brought against you

b)       acts of your pets both on and off your property

There are also optional coverages to consider, such as a personal umbrella which supplements the liability coverage you already have on your auto and home policies, providing you with an extra layer of coverage. 

Tips for making your property safer are helpful when you are marketing a property for sale. Falls account for approximately 9 million annual trips to the emergency rooms in the United States, so that’s a good place to start. Most people know someone who has been injured in a fall, or they have been injured themselves. To reduce the risk of a buyer or tenant prospect falling, consider these tips:

a)      make sure rugs have slip-resistant backing, or take them up while the property is on the market

b)      keep exits and passageways free of boxes, furniture, and other tripping hazards

c)       consider using bright, eye-catching tape to draw attention to step ups and step downs

d)      make sure stairways are clearly lit and that light switches are installed at the top and bottom 

In addition, keep yard hazards to a minimum:

a)      put garden tools and game equipment back in storage after use, as they can cause a fall if left lying around

b)      keep your walkways and driveway and yard in good condition and free from obstructions or debris

c)       securely anchor children’s outdoor play equipment such as slides and swings. 

Left unchecked, small maintenance items can lead to safety issues. To help make your property safer and potentially avoid more costly repairs, consider making sure steps and walkways are in good condition and those handrails are sturdy and securely fastened. Doorways, steps, porches, and walkways need to be well lit. Stairs, hallways and exit paths should be kept clear. 

I hope this explanation was helpful. I pride myself in helping people be protected so that when the unintentional accident occurs, insurance will keep your liability exposure at a minimum. Feel free to contact me directly for further information. 

Pamala Green, Farmers Insurance


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