Airbnb seems to have been a very successful concept. So much so that it has taken the world of internet-supported travel accommodation by storm – a storm that by October of 2016 has generated some 2 million listings, in 34,000 cities in 191 countries around the world.
It is based on the very simple concept that people may rent out a room, or their entire home, to a traveller in search of temporary accommodation at a price that is typically much cheaper than would need to be paid for a hotel room.
Home occupiers – some owning their own home, but others just renting it – are brought together with travelling applicants as guests through Airbnb’s own website.
Since its inception, Airbnb has been concerned to address the natural concerns of both hosts and their visitors about safety and security issues.
A big worry for potential hosts, for example, is the risk of the home being damaged or wrecked by irresponsible visitors. Horror stories have been told by hosts who have been hit in this way and some of them are recounted in a story published by the Daily Mail newspaper on the 4th of April 2016.
Alive to such possibilities, Airbnb itself promises a “peace of mind” Host Guarantee, which claims to offer hosts around £600,000 in compensation for damage or losses suffered at the hands of guests.
Despite the guarantee, however, Airbnb warns that it is no substitute for arranging your own insurance against theft, loss or damage or indemnity against your personal liability as a host.
Limitations of the Host Guarantee, for example, include the exclusion of:
- the theft of securities or cash;
- higher value items such as works of art, jewellery, or collectibles;
- damage to shared or common areas of the property;
- injury or suffering of any of the host’s pets or animals.
To help fill in the gaps left by Airbnb’s Host Guarantee, therefore, you need to arrange your own specialist form of insurance to protect your home and its contents when you are playing host to temporary visitors. Just such protection is provided by specialist Airbnb insurance, which may be tailored to meet the particular needs and circumstances of your own home and the risks of theft loss or damage incurred whenever any part of it is let to guests. It is the type of cover that is not offered by several mainstream insurers.
As important as the protection against physical loss or damage is the indemnity which specialist Airbnb insurance provides in the event of your being held personally liable for any injury or property damage suffered by one of your guests. As their host, the law holds that you owe them a duty of care and are responsible for taking no action – or failing to take any action – which leads to their injury or damage to their property.
Personal liability claims such as this may assume very substantial proportions – especially where injuries have been sustained – and it is common for a minimum of £1 million indemnity to be provided.
Your existing home building and contents insurance
A further reason for arranging your own, standalone Airbnb insurance is for the avoidance of any doubt about the effects on your existing home building and contents insurance.
Some insurers may remove cover if you are letting rooms to temporary guests or increase their premiums in such cases. Either way, it is important that you inform your main insurer that you intend to let out a room or room, since failure to do so may invalidate your existing cover.
If you are the tenant of the property containing rooms you want to let to guests, it is also important that you seek your landlord’s approval or risk a breach of the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement.