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Does my travel insurance cover Airbnb?

From 5-star luxury to a bed in the back of a converted Kombi, Airbnb offers unique and affordable accommodation experiences. But is it covered by your travel insurance?

The world is more connected now than ever before. Crowdfunding, file sharing and crowdsourcing have aided building this online global village, which has brought about changes in every facet of modern life. One such change is how we think about accommodation.

Rather than shell out hundreds of dollars on hotel accommodation, more and more travellers are turning to peer-to-peer operators like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, which offer lodgings for much less than traditional providers, and can also create a more immersive holiday experience. Airbnb is an online community marketplace, which connects people wanting to rent their homes with people looking for accommodation. Airbnb has come a long way in a short time. Founded in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb now offers travellers more than 1.5 million listings, in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

While all of this is nice, one question often comes up: "Does my travel insurance cover Airbnb?" The answer is YES.

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What does my travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance covers you in an Airbnb property in the same way you would be covered if you were staying in a traditional hotel. You're generally covered for cancellation, your personal belongings and personal liability.

While you are covered by your travel insurance, this does not absolve you from all responsibility. When the Guardian asked if travel insurance would cover dodgy operators, Airbnb said: "[We] recommend that people take the same precautions as they would using any other type of accommodation on a trip – i.e. use common sense when looking after valuables, take out travel insurance and check the policy details for any exceptions that might apply."

So, what does that mean? As with any accommodation, the onus is on you to make sure you are taking reasonable precautions to ensure your safety.

Am I covered if I have an accident and hurt myself?

Most travel insurance policies include cover for medical issues. If you trip and break your ankle, you should be covered by your travel insurance.

Am I covered if I have to cancel my trip?

If your policy includes cancellation then you will be covered. Since your accommodation with Airbnb is classed as pre-booked, your travel insurance should cover you for any unused portion of your trip and reimburse you for any reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, if you've experienced an insured event.

What is an insured event?

Insured events vary but generally include:

  • Serious illness to you or a family member
  • Death
  • Natural disasters
  • Your employer cancels your leave
  • Your travelling companion suffers an accident

Find out more about cancellation travel insurance

Is my luggage covered for theft?

If you have rented out the entire property, your travel insurance should cover you because the accommodation is not classed as a public place, provided you have taken precautions to ensure the safety of your belongings. However, if you are only renting out a room in an apartment or home, then the accommodation is considered a public place. This means that in order to have your personal belongings covered, you need to make sure they are locked away in your room.

What happens if I break something?

When you agree to the Terms of Service with Airbnb, "You also authorise Airbnb Payments to charge your credit card in the event of damage caused at an Accommodation as contemplated under 'Damage to Accommodations' below and for Security Deposits, if applicable." If your policy provides protection for personal liability, these financial losses will be covered by this section of your policy. This means you'll be covered if you break an antique vase or spill wine on the couch.

How do I make a claim?

As with any travel insurance claim, evidence is the key. Make sure you have all of the necessary documentation to streamline the claims process.

  • Step 1. Make sure you are safe and have done everything within your power to prevent any further loss
  • Step 2. Contact the authorities if necessary
  • Step 3. Contact your insurer as soon as it's safe to do so
  • Step 4. Read your insurers claims guide
  • Step 5. Gather all relevant documentation and evidence
  • Step 6. Complete your claim form
  • Step 7. Send in your completed claim form and any and all supporting evidence

Find out more about lodging travel insurance claims

How can I make sure the Airbnb property is safe?

Read the reviews

This is the best way to find out whether or not the accommodation is as advertised. People don't shy away from voicing their opinions online, so if there are issues, you're going to know about it.

Do your homework

Look at the pictures displayed on Airbnb and then go for a walk around the area using Google Maps. You'll know pretty quickly whether or not the area is as described in the listing.

Don't put yourself in harm's way

A major concern when travelling is safety. If you don't feel comfortable in the property, don't stay there. Contact Airbnb and see if there is any way of recovering your accommodation fees.

How do I choose a place on Airbnb?

Finding a place on Airbnb is simple and you can refine your search with the following parameters:

  • Room type. Do you want the entire place to yourself? Maybe a private room is all you need.
  • Price. Enter the minimum and maximum you're willing to pay.
  • Size. Nominate how many bedrooms, bathrooms and beds you're going to need.
  • Amenities. Do you need Wi-Fi, a big screen TV, and a full service kitchen?
  • Property type. You can choose from standard properties like apartments and houses, or go wild and stay in less traditional accommodations like tree houses, cars or yurts.
  • Host language. If you are going to a country where you don't speak the language, it may be helpful to choose a property where the host is fluent in your native tongue.
  • Keywords. If you have any specifics needs, search for them and see what pops up.

Is there protection for owners?

Yes. Airbnb offer a host guarantee.

What is the Airbnb host guarantee?

The Airbnb host guarantee provides up to $1,000,000 for damages in the rare event of guest damages above the security deposit, or if no security deposit is in place.

What doesn't the host guarantee cover?

The host guarantee does not protect:

  • Cash and securities
  • Pets
  • Personal liability
  • Shared or common areas

Host protection insurance or host guarantee – what's the difference?

The Airbnb host guarantee is not insurance and is designed to provide cover for damage to the host's property. Host protection insurance is insurance and provides the host with cover from third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage.

What doesn't host protection insurance cover?

Host protection insurance does not cover losses related to:

  • Intentional acts
  • Stays outside the U.S
  • Slander, defamation or emotional distress
  • Defects like drywall problems, mould or bed bugs

Accommodation services like Airbnb

  • CouchSurfing
  • Vacation Rentals By Owner
  • TheWorldByOwner
  • 9flats
  • Roomorama
  • SafariNow
  • Pasporta Servo
  • Travelmob
  • Hospitality service
  • BeWelcome
  • Wimdu
  • Vive Unique
  • BeRoomers
  • HouseTrip
  • Alterkeys
  • HomeAway
  • Flat-Club
  • SleepOut.com
  • Servas Open Doors
  • Tripping

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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