Listing your home on Airbnb? Contact your insurer

15 December 2017

The thousands of New Zealanders who are listing their homes on accommodation sites like Airbnb, Book-a-Bach or Holiday Houses need to check their insurance cover.

“While we haven’t had any complaints as yet, Airbnb is one to watch,” says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Karen Stevens.  “Many homeowners don’t appear to be thinking about insurance before they list their homes or baches on Airbnb.”

Inviting paying guests into your home carries increased risk. While Airbnb offers a host guarantee to provide some protection for damage, this may not be comprehensive and it does not replace insurance.

Top tips for Airbnb operators

1. Contact your insurer and check your policy

Tell your house and contents insurer about your plans. You might be required to change from a residential to a landlord, or commercial, policy and EQC cover might no longer apply. If you’re in a block of flats or an apartment, your body corporate arrangement might not allow you to rent out your flat or apartment.

2. Ask about accidental damage cover

Most house insurance policies will provide cover for accidental damage caused by guests in your home - including Airbnb guests. Damage caused by paying guests can also be subject to an extra excess, on top of your standard excess. However, deliberate damage is unlikely to be covered– ask your insurer to clarify what damage by a paying guest would and wouldn’t be covered.

3. Tell your insurer if your home is unoccupied

If you’re not living in the home, or if you're letting out a bach or investment property that you don't normally live in, let your insurer know. You may need different insurance cover.  Many policies don’t cover you if your house is unoccupied for a period of time, e.g. 60 days.

4. Keep your home safe and secure

Prevention is best for protecting your home. To maintain your cover you must exercise “reasonable care”. Lock doors and windows, install smoke alarms and check they are working, check wiring, appliances and heaters, and inspect the house regularly. Also keep the house and gardens neat and tidy, and empty the letterbox.

5. Take care with your belongings

If there is a theft by someone lawfully on your property, you won’t be covered. Lock your jewellery and valuables in a safe, or a secure location.

6. Protect yourself

The Airbnb site has features, including guest profiles and reviews. You can choose to take a security deposit from guests before they stay, to cover you in case of minor damage.