Simon Birritteri

Why your home insurer might not cover your Airbnb

Estimated Read: 5 minutes.

Many people are not aware that most insurers do not provide adequate cover for platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com. We discuss this in more detail and how to make sure you have the right insurance.

Airbnb and HomeAway offer some cover

Before we talk what most home insurers do cover, it important to point out that some of the platforms themselves do provide some measure of protection. If you list your property on either of these platforms then you will get some cover if something goes wrong. However, the protection offered is limited and is no substitute for a dedicated insurance policy. Our article for HomeAway and Airbnb discussed this in more depth if you are interested in what they offer.

How does home insurance work with Airbnb?

We surveyed 90%** of the UK’s property insurers and asked them how they would react if they found out a customer had listed their property on Airbnb or similar platforms.

** 2019 survey conducted of 90% of insurers by GWP.

All of the insurers we spoke to confirmed that they would not cover Airbnb, HomeAway or similar platforms automatically unless their customers had disclosed this beforehand. If you have not already told them that you are using your property as an Airbnb, your insurer may not cover your claim if something goes wrong. Over half of insurers said they would not provide any specific cover for Airbnb even if their customers told them they were doing this. That could mean no cover for things like:

Deliberate damage caused by a guest.
Theft by a guest with no forced entry (e.g. if you let the guest into your home).
Accidental damage caused by a guest.
Legal liability (e.g. if a guest is injured and holds you responsible).

Some insurers even confirmed that they would cancel their customer’s policy altogether if they found out that they were letting paying guests into their home. If you contact an insurer, they may recommend a business insurance policy (such as insurance for running a professional bed and breakfast). However, for customers not doing such businesses full time, these types of insurance policies may be expensive. They may also burden you with unsuitable terms and conditions such as health and safety regulations. These policies may also not offer adequate cover for things like the like the personal contents in your home.

What insurance do I need for Airbnb and what does it cover?

Attempting to get cover by ringing round insurers or using comparison sites is tricky as the cover offered by each provider is varied. 86% of insurers we spoke to said they did not take any specific steps to educate their customers about using Airbnb or similar platforms. That means that the only way to find out what each insurer offers is by writing down a list of the things you want covered and contacting each insurer to ask if they cover them. Not ideal if you do not have a lot of time on your hands. Luckily, we did a mystery shop of some well known insurers and brokers to give you an idea.

Information based on mystery shop of insurers completed on 16th March 2020.

On the table above, the left hand side lists the kinds of things you may expect an insurer to cover you for if you listed your property on these platforms. For example, if you let a guest into your home and they stole something from you, this would be classed as ‘theft without forced entry’ as the guest did not need to break into your house to steal something. If you have at look at what each insurer said they would cover when we spoke to them directly however, you can see that many insurers were not prepared to cover anything at all. Some insurers were prepared to cover some things and not others. Calling round home insurers to get adequate cover is not straightforward, even if they say they offer specific ‘Airbnb insurance.’

I’m an running an Airbnb. What could this mean for me?

Your insurer may cancel your policy or stop your claim if they find out that you have not told them. If you have told them that you are hosting on Airbnb, you may want to ask if there is anything that they are not currently covering you for. Insurer policy wordings are regularly updated and it is best to contact them directly in addition to checking your documentation. If you have not already checked this out, you could be risking £1,000s worth of damage if you need to make a claim and are not covered.

How to stay protected.

It’s important you speak to your existing insurer first to find out if they will cover you. Write down a list of things that are important to you or that you would typically expect to be covered for before speaking to them. If you are not happy with the level of cover you are getting, you may want to consider speaking to a specialist broker such as Pikl that can cover you for this.

How specialist insurance can help

A specialist insurance policy specifically designed to cover your for platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com may give you more peace of mind and may be able to give you a higher level of cover so that your property is covered. Pikl insurance has been specifically designed to cover you for things like this.

Pikl provide specialist insurance for short-term letting, including cover for properties that are let out on websites such as Airbnb. If you already have insurance elsewhere, we offer a ‘Top-Up’ insurance policy. Your insurer can still continue to cover you whilst our cover can insure your home for any claims caused by your guests. You will need to let your insurer know that you are intending to do this but alternatively, we can also cover your home as well as cover for your guests. Our insurance for when you have short-term guests can cover you for:

  • Public liability including cover for guest accidents involving bodily injury.
  • Legal cover defend or pursue legal claims against guests.
  • Accidental and malicious damage by a guest.
  • Theft or attempted theft by a guest.
  • Alternative accommodation for you or your guest if your property is being fixed as the result of a guest related claim.
  • Fire and escape of water damage caused by a guest.
  • Loss of keys and replacement locks cover if renting out your entire property.

Getting cover with us with easy and relatively straightforward. We know that the world of insurance can be confusing. If you have any queries, our UK based team will be happy to help.

Do you manage other Airbnb properties?

If you are a company that manages multiple Airbnb properties for clients, offering insurance as part of your service offering can help you attract more business. If this applies to you, check out our page for businesses to see more regarding what is on offer.

Backed by the best

Our products are backed by some of the UK's biggest insurers.