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Aussies risk slip-ups as Airbnb stays go uncovered

December 17, 2018 Insurance No Comments Email Email

More than half of Aussies are confused about the terms of their travel insurance when it comes to Airbnb says a new survey

The study found that one in two believe that travel insurance would cover a case of theft from an Airbnb, and 20% considered themselves ‘covered’ in the event of an Airbnb host cancellation. According to insurance experts, consumers that are unclear on their rights could stand to lose when facing a claim.

 Natalie Ball Director of says,

“Many Airbnb stayers are completely in the dark regarding their travel insurance, which is understandable given the ever-changing climate of the share-economy. Travel insurance is not a catchall solution to an Airbnb stay gone wrong. Before you hop on board the home-sharing train make sure you understand the circumstances that you are and aren’t covered for.”

Robbed while rooming

While travel insurance would generally cover you for a case of theft from your hotel room, certain rules would apply if you were booked to stay with an Airbnb host or with fellow tenants.

Ball says,

“It’s important to know that unless you’re renting out an entire property, you wouldn’t always be covered for theft in an Airbnb. Specifically, if you are sharing your accommodation with others (who are not in your travel party), you would need to keep your belongings locked and secured in order for them to be covered.”

The same would apply to any type of shared residence, such as a hostel dorm or share house. In fact, even possessions left behind with a hotel concierge after check may not be covered. Generally speaking your insurer would require your belongings to be within your reach or under lock and key in order to pay out your claim.

Prove your purchase

Ball notes that travellers must also provide proof of purchase to their insurers when claiming for lost or stolen items.

“Not only is the onus on you to keep your property safe and secure at all times, but be prepared to provide some evidence of its value and ownership. Without this insurers cannot reasonably reimburse you for your belongings.”

Host cancellation cover clarified

With 115,000 Airbnb listings in Australia alone and its endless array of overseas accommodation options for budgets of all sizes, Airbnb can seem like an enticing option for consumers looking to bag a bargain. However an Airbnb cancellation can be a frustrating and expensive ordeal. Depending on your host’s cancellation policy you may not be eligible for a full refund should you cancel less than 24 hours prior to check-in.

Host cancellations are a huge source of annoyance for Airbnb guests, topping the list of complaints received by the home sharing site.

Ball says,

“Host cancellations are the number one complaint from Airbnb guests. Though Airbnb does take steps to accommodate inconvenienced guests, travellers left in the lurch may find themselves struggling to find an alternative booking or forced to spend beyond their budget in order to have somewhere to stay.”

While Airbnb does offer refunds should a host cancel, guests under tight time constraints may be unable to secure an equivalent booking in their price range.

In such a scenario Ball recommends travellers ensure they’ve done their homework and take care to avoid a holiday hiccup.

“While travel insurance doesn’t currently cover the cost of a last-minute host cancellation, there are steps you can take to avoid being out-of-pocket. Scope out some alternative hotels in advance and check whether they offer full refunds; it may be worth having a backup booking in case.”

Ball also suggests doing plenty of research and checking out reviews on Airbnb before clicking ‘book’.

“Read between the lines. If a booking seems ‘too good to be true’ or a host’s response time is poor use your better judgement and question whether you’re prepared to take the risk.”

The crux of cancellation cover

Ball notes that travel insurance can help recover costs of your accommodation if you need to cancel your booking for a covered, unforeseen reason.

“If circumstances force you to cancel, (not your host) a comprehensive policy would generally refund your accommodation and travel costs. A last-minute illness or injury, the death of a close relative or a natural disaster would all fall under this benefit.”

Accommodation misconceptions

Whether you’re renting an Airbnb apartment or staying in a five-star resort, most travellers will overlook the potential expenses they could stand to lose. But almost everyone has encountered a setback of some sort while on the move.

Ball says,

“Many Aussies shop around to get the best bang for their buck when booking their long awaited holiday, yet fail to adequately protect it with travel insurance. With hefty deposits paid upfront, travel insurance can help you find a way around exorbitant lost accommodation deposits if you do encounter an issue on your next trip away”.

Finesse the fineprint

Ball says that it’s not just Airbnb guests that need to be wary of the terms of their insurance. Taking the time to read through your insurance documents and ask any relevant questions is worthwhile no matter your destination.

“Misapprehensions over your cover could set consumers up to fail. Before you make any upfront payments, do your homework so you can enjoy your adventure, anxiety free.”

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