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Airbnb and insurance

I was meant to go to Lyon recently for a weekend away but it was cancelled because of the French railway strike. If we had managed to go, we would have stayed in what looked like a luxurious apartment in the centre of the city, which we found online through Airbnb.

Airbnb seems to be taking over the world – apparently 80,000 British home owners now have their properties listed, there are two million listings in total and 60 million users worldwide. It’s a website which enables home owners to rent out part or all of their home for short periods. It’s not just used for holidays: I’ve heard of major British organisations placing their staff in an Airbnb when they go abroad for a short time rather than booking a hotel.

But there’s been a lot of talk recently about the difficulties of making an insurance claim if your rent your property out this way. Airbnb offers something called Host Guarantee, which provides some insurance cover – but not everything. For example, it doesn’t cover cash, valuables or communal areas and also there’s no personal liability if a guest is harmed in some way.

So it’s no surprise that one insurer has just launched a specific Airbnb host cover: not a separate product, but an extension which is available to any of its existing home insurance customers. But there are a few limitations: homes can only be rented out for a maximum of 90 days a year, and second or holiday homes aren’t covered – it’s only for people renting out their main home, which is the key point of Airbnb.

There are also some specialist landlord insurers who now cover Airbnb hosting: these can be easily found online.

There’s a very good blog which looks at all aspects of Airbnb and insurance. The key point it makes is that you must tell your home insurance company if you are letting out your property via Airbnb. If you don’t they may refuse to pay out on an insurance claim – even if it’s nothing to do with an Airbnb guest.

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