New York Airbnb Hosts Should Consider Insurance Dangers

Nearly 15,000 New York units are listed with Airbnb. Is it safe?

Nearly 15,000 vacation rentals and rooms for rent in New York City are listed on Airbnb, a popular travel site that makes it easy for people to earn money by turning their apartments or condos into crash pads for tourists.

A lot of people love the service, but Airbnb hosts need to consider the risks.

Nearly 15,000 units are listed on Airbnb. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons)

Your insurance may not cover claims related to paying guests. If a paying guest damages your home, or steals some of your property, your insurance policy may not cover the damages. You can’t count on liability coverage, either, if a paying guest injures himself or others.

Airbnb’s “Host Guarantee” may not help. After a highly publicized incident last year in which an Airbnb host’s San Francisco home was ransacked by guests, the company took steps to try to make hosts feel safer about renting to strangers. Airbnb began offering a $1 million Host Guarantee to cover property damage. The guarantee, however, is far from airtight — especially for New Yorkers.

Take a look at some of the terms and conditions:

• The “guarantee” excludes damage to condominiums, co-ops, apartments and other multiple-dwelling structures unless you own the unit — so if you’re a renter looking to make a few extra bucks by having someone crash on your couch, the Host Guarantee offers no protection. Listing your landlord’s property as an available rental can also land you in hot water for illegal subletting.

• The “guarantee” does not cover the loss of jewelry, antique furniture, art, collections, furs, weapons or money.

• The “guarantee” is valid only if you notify Airbnb of losses within 14 days, follow up several times, and attempt to collect payment first from the guest and/or your actual insurer.

• Airbnb uses “cash value” to determine payments — writing checks for the depreciated value of your property, not their actual replacement value.

Get real coverage

Real coverage is available, though it’s important to ask the right questions. Services like Airbnb are still pretty new, and insurers have different rules about what they’ll cover and when. Gotham Brokerage Co. Inc. has been working with New York City insurers for 50 years and can help New Yorkers ask the right questions to ensure that they get adequate coverage.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage, give us a call at 212-406-7300.

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