Sharing experience & knowledge
Visitor accommodation – thinking about insuranceLisa Rankin Posted 8 December 2017
Many people do not consider the insurance implications of casual ‘sharing economy’ uses. If you are considering renting out your house, a room, a spare office or sharing your car, you should be considering the insurance implications.
What does this mean for Airbnb Hosts?
Online platforms like Airbnb do provide some insurance cover for hosts, albeit limited. For instance, Airbnb provides limited insurance protection for hosts and, in some circumstances, landlords, under their Host Protection Insurance Programme.
By agreeing to list a property, or continuing to list a property on Airbnb, you automatically agree to be covered for occurrences during Airbnb stays, subject to the policy terms. It is available to hosts irrespective of what other insurance policies are in place.
Airbnb also have a Host Guarantee which is not insurance coverage as such. It may assist if a guest damages your property.
A host and/or landlord should not assume the insurance coverage provided by Airbnb is sufficient and should make their own enquiries as to whether they require additional coverage.
Some insurance companies now provide short term holiday rental policies which cover properties listed on Airbnb when in use. It is strongly advised that hosts and landlords explore all their options and ensure that they have appropriate coverage over the property while it is being used for Airbnb purposes but also when it is not.
What about other accommodation sharing platforms?
The popularity of “couch-surfing” is increasing. There are a number of websites where you can register to participate. People intending to register their couch for this purpose should check their current insurance policies and speak with their insurer. It is common for home and contents insurance policies to exclude theft and/or damage by guests and therefore you may not be properly covered.
It is important for all landlords and hosts to disclose any intention to use their property in a shared accommodation capacity. There is a duty to disclose all relevant information to an insurer that could impact on their decision whether or not to offer insurance. There is potential for an insurer to deny a claim if the host and/or landlord failed to inform them of their intention to use the property for share accommodation purposes.
I’m a guest – what does all this mean for me?
Travel insurance policies in general should cover cancellations of Airbnb bookings in the same manner as it would a hotel.
However, travel insurance will not cover cancellations relating to couch-surfing arrangements, if, as is usually the case, there is no commercial transaction, i.e. no money has been paid by the guest for benefit of sleeping on the couch.
Again, guests taking out travel insurance policies should ensure that the policy appropriately covers their needs. This includes any damage or theft to personal property that might occur during a couch-surfing stay.
Are Car-Sharing arrangements affected?
The popularity of car-share arrangements such as Uber is increasing. Uber like Airbnb, offers limited liability insurance; however, drivers are expected to also have a comprehensive insurance policy in place. Some insurers now have tailored policies for Uber drivers. Again, any intention to use your car for this purpose should be disclosed to your insurer to ensure you have appropriate coverage.
In addition to Uber, there are car sharing platforms where people can hire your vehicle while you do not require it. Again, the car-share companies provide some limited insurance, but you should ensure you have appropriate protections in place. Many car insurance policies cover private use, but may not cover any damage sustained while the vehicle is being used for commercial purposes.
The important thing to remember in all share arrangements, whether you are the host or a guest, is to be frank with your insurer about your intentions and to ensure you have appropriate coverage in place.