An Owner's Guide to Airbnb's Host Guarantee

An Owner's Guide to Airbnb's Host Guarantee

The beauty of owning a short-term rental in the Digital Age is that vacation rental websites do almost everything for you. Platforms like Airbnb, TripAdvisor and the like make promoting, booking with and managing your vacation rental business a cinch. Most of these platforms also offer insurance coverage at little to no cost to you as a built-in benefit of using their services.

But what if we told you that these free host liability insurance policies could be leaving you and your vacation rental business vulnerable to the unthinkable? In other words, the free host liability insurance policies provided by vacation rental websites have major gaps in coverage that could put your business, your property and your income at risk.

Let’s be clear: these free host liability insurance policies are a great place to start and can provide a little peace of mind when protecting your property. But are you fully protected? Absolutely not. Here’s why.

The Basics: What is a Host Liability Policy?

A host liability policy refers to the coverage that vacation rental websites offer to protect hosts from third-party claims of bodily injury and/or property damage. For example, if a guest trips and falls while staying in your home and sues you, Airbnb’s Host Protection policy will cover up to $1 million in third-party liability claims (more on that later).

That sounds all well and good, right? If the platform you use to list your vacation rental provides you with $1 million in coverage, shouldn’t that be good enough?

The problem with these policies, however, is that they have many exclusions… exclusions you may not realize could be problematic until it’s too late. Let’s take a closer look at the specific free host liability policies from one of the biggest players in the vacation rental game around: Airbnb’s Host Guarantee and Host Protection policies.

Mind the Gap: Airbnb’s Host Guarantee & Host Protection Policies Have Major Holes in Coverage

Airbnb provides both a “Host Guarantee” and a “Host Protection” policy to its users as an added benefit of using the platform. The Host Guarantee is designed to cover property damage caused by guests. The Host Protection program provides up to $1 million in primary liability coverage for a guest’s bodily injury or damage to their property.

What more could you want, you might wonder? The truth is, a lot.

Airbnb’s Host Guarantee and Host Protection policy have a major list of exclusions including:

  • damage caused by acts of nature
  • damage caused by pets
  • property damage due to pollution or mold
  • loss of business income
  • aircraft, auto, mobile, watercraft equipment
  • personal/advertising injury
  • and more

While these policies do provide some coverage for your vacation rental, you might find yourself footing the bill for certain issues you never would have anticipated. Consider this scenario that highlights how solely relying on these free Airbnb policies could cost you a pretty penny:

Even though you advertised your listing as “pet-free” a guest still brings Fido, a 50lb black lab, with them on vacation. Unfortunately, Fido rips up your couch cushions, leaves deep gouges in the bedroom door and tracks muddy paw prints all over your carpet. Airbnb is explicit in that they won’t cover pet damage, so your claim will most likely be denied. What’s more, they won’t cover the business income you will most likely lose as you put your rentals on hold to make the necessary repairs.

This is an extreme example, of course. But, as Airbnb admits, “The Host Guarantee is not insurance and doesn’t replace your homeowners or renter’s insurance.”

Fact: Neither or TripAdvisor offer any liability insurance for property owners. In these cases, you may consider setting up a damage deposit. Full disclosure: This tactic could pay for some unexpected expenses, but you may miss out on potential bookings from guests who are wary of paying deposits.

Airbnb's Host Protection insurance policy, meanwhile, appears to be a suitable line of defense should a guest become injured during their stay on your property. But what if you offer a paddleboat for your lake as part of the guest experience? Since Airbnb doesn’t cover this kind of amenity, you’d be on your own if a guest comes forward with a lawsuit after injuring themselves while using it.

The reality is that the free host liability policies offered by services like Airbnb have significant gaps in coverage that could have you staring down major losses.

The Bottom Line? Always Read a Liability Policy’s Exclusions

No matter what vacation rental website you use to list your property, always read the full terms and conditions and the list of exclusions contained in the host liability insurance policy. Free liability insurance policies are great to have, but they can’t guarantee that they’ll have your back in the event of an incident you can neither predict nor prepare for.

Vacation Rental Insurance: Complete Coverage for Vacation Rental Businesses

Vacation rental insurance is specialty coverage designed specifically to protect you from the unique risks you face as a property owner or manager. It’s called “comprehensive coverage” for a reason: it offers complete coverage, including (but not limited to) commercial general liability, personal liability, business income, property damage, personal/advertising injury, theft, and so much more.

While a free liability policy provides some protection (plus it’s free!), it simply doesn’t give you the complete coverage that a vacation rental insurance policy does.

Start with a Host Liability Policy, Go the Distance with Vacation Rental Insurance

The vacation rental industry is booming, which is good news for property owners. Thanks to the various vacation rental listing platforms available, taking advantage of this opportunity is easier than ever before. While using these platforms is a no-brainer for growing your business and boosting your income, you can’t fully rely on them for insurance coverage. When it comes to liability insurance that fully protects you, free " Host Guarantees" leave much to be desired and could, in fact, be leaving you in the lurch. 

Don’t just “mind the gap” when protecting your vacation rental. Find out more about how CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance can protect you from the risks you face when renting your property. Request a free quote today!

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. Coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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About Us

CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.