Q: Do I need extra insurance for hosting an open house?
A. The answer to that question is maybe — you should check with your insurance provider to see if your realtor insurance covers open houses. General Liability Insurance may cover third-party lawsuits when clients, buyers, and sellers sue you over injuries and property damage. So this coverage could cover the liabilities that come with hosting and overseeing an open house. For instance, real estate General Liability could cover the following:
- A prospective buyer trips over a carpet and sues you over their injury.
- The current homeowner sues you when damages their property.
If your General Liability covers open house injuries and accidents, it may pay for the cost to hire lawyers to defend your real estate agency. If you lose the lawsuit and owe thousands in medical bills and damages, GL may also cover that.
It's important to talk with your agent because some General Liability policies can offer extra benefits for immediate medical costs of an accident or injury, and you'll want to know if you have this coverage. Say a prospective buyer misses the step in a sunken living room and lands in a heap on the floor. You're worried he might have injured his neck in the fall and you're not sure what to do. This is precisely a situation when you should probably call an ambulance.
Insurers that cover ambulance bills and other emergency medical expenses do so because they know that paying for these costs — though expensive — often prevents a lawsuit from being filed against your company. This coverage can prevent the hassle and expense that comes with a full-fledged lawsuit.
In addition to considering insurance coverage, you should develop a pre-open house safety checklist. Scan the property for trip hazards like…
- Loose carpet.
- Electric cords.
- Uneven floors.
- Step-down landings.
Be wary of loose handrails and make a note of other problems that could lead to injuries.