Airbnb Damage Policy Overview: How to Protect Yourself Against Damages

It’s every property manager’s worst nightmare: guests trash your property, leaving you with a huge bill to repair the damage.

This is exactly what happened to John Hildebrand of Hilde Homes whose story we will share in this blog post along with other stories. After a mostly uneventful experience with guests at his Arizona vacation rental, he opened the door to find overflowing bins, a dog mess, missing appliances, and badly stained bedsheets.

Luckily, he didn’t need to wait for Airbnb to fix the situation. Thanks to Superhog’s coverage, he could reclaim his money back in 3 days.

So, what is covered by Airbnb damage policy, and how can you increase security for your Airbnb listings?

This article explains what Airbnb’s Aircover includes and covers ways to protect your Airbnb against damages. Read on to find answers to the most common questions about Airbnb guest damage policy.

Airbnb damage policy: How does it work?

When you list on Airbnb, you’ll be automatically covered by the OTA’s Aircover insurance for Hosts. This cover is free of charge, available for all hosts, and you don’t need to sign up for it separately. 

Aircover Airbnb damage insurance includes:

  • Up to $3 million damage protection, with special cover for art and valuables, auto and boat, damage caused by pets, loss of income, and deep cleaning.
  • $1 million liability insurance to cover guest injury, damage, or theft of guest property.
  • 24-hour safety line to provide support to hosts and guests.

Learn more about what Aircover does and doesn’t cover below, or read the Airbnb damage protection terms for more detailed information.

What damages does Airbnb cover and doesn't cover?

List of damages covered by Airbnb

Doesn’t cover:

  • Loss of currency
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Losses caused by acts of nature (e.g, hurricane)
  • Excessive use of electricity, gas, fuel, water or other utilities

Covers:

  • Damage to art & valuables
  • Parked auto & boat damage
  • Damage caused by pets of guests
  • Income loss due to confirmed booking cancellation because of guest damage
  • Deep cleaning costs

Overall, the Airbnb property damage policy covers losses that directly result from the actions of a guest or their visitors. If an Airbnb accidental damage has nothing to do with the guest, you are not eligible for reimbursement.

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What happens if your guest damages your Airbnb?

Imagine the worst-case scenario has become a reality, and now you need to figure out what happens if an Airbnb guest damages property. Let’s recall the story of John Hildebrand to clarify what can be done.

When John’s housekeeping team entered the house, they were shocked at the damage they found. 

The guests had sneaked dogs into the property without paying the pet fee, and there was dog mess everywhere. Trash cans were overflowing, towels and bedsheets were badly stained, and appliances like hairdryers were missing. 

“There was dirt everywhere. Every single pair of sheets was destroyed, all the towels were damaged – it was very disrespectful.”

Airbnb isn’t the quickest way to get Airbnb damage covered. First, you have to document the before and after to prove that the damage happened during the stay. Then, you have to keep in mind the strict time frames. Airbnb takes a week to a month to process your Airbnb damage claim so make sure you’re not out of cash.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation with Airbnb damage, here’s what to do: 

  • Document the Airbnb damages by taking photos and videos. Get testimonials from cleaning staff if they were first to enter the property.
  • Communicate with guests directly through Airbnb to see if they are willing to pay for damages caused.
  • If this fails and guests refuse to pay Airbnb damages, submit a claim through Airbnb’s Resolution Center. Select “Request compensation for damages” and fill out all the details.
  • You have 14 days to report an incident to Airbnb, and the sooner you report, the more chance you have of being able to claim damages.

After you’ve submitted the request, guests will have 3 days to pay. If you don’t receive the money, you’ll need to contact Airbnb support. You must do this within 30 days of the damage according to the Airbnb damage policy.

John decided to report the incident to Airbnb immediately to give himself the best chance of winning a claim, and help prevent the same thing happening to other hosts. 

John and many other hosts and property managers face a myriad of guest damages. Here’s a list of the most frequently occurring guest damages in vacation rentals according to Superhog’s Senior Resolution Advisor Tanya Simmonds. And look how our vacation rental dispute resolution team processes incidents.

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How do you make a claim for an Airbnb damage deposit?

If you have charged a security deposit when renting a property, you are more likely to get Airbnb guest accidental damage reimbursed. Note that there are two types of damage deposits – Airbnb-required and host-required:

  • Airbnb-required security deposits: The platform puts an authorization hold on a guest’s payment method and informs the guest they may be charged additionally if they cause Airbnb accidental damage. 
  • Host-required security deposits: Hosts use the Airbnb offline fees feature to set a security deposit. Guests can see the specific sum and conditions during the booking process.

The damage claim process is identical for Airbnb-required and host-required security deposits and allows you to get extra expenses covered. How long does an Airbnb host have to file a claim? The Airbnb damage policy gives you 14 days from the checkout date.

Follow these steps to claim the Airbnb insurance for damage:

  1. Log in to your Airbnb account.
  2. Go to the Resolution Center and file a reimbursement request.
  3. Select the booking.
  4. Go to ‘Select a reason’ and click ‘Request compensation for damages.
  5. Click ‘Continue’ to indicate the details of the damages.

Airbnb host damage protection requests are pretty common these days, with many properties using them:

“As an Airbnb host, charging guests for damages and cleaning fees is a common practice, but it’s important to adhere to Airbnb’s guidelines. You can set a security deposit to cover potential damages, and this amount is pre-authorized but not immediately charged to the guest. If there are damages, you need to document them and report them through Airbnb’s resolution center within 14 days of checkout (Emine Özdemir).” 

How do you handle Airbnb guest damages if you don’t have a security deposit?

Although making a security deposit is a more reliable way to protect yourself, you can still get your money back even if you haven’t made a deposit.

The best strategy is to contact the guest directly. You can do this through the Resolution Center by placing a claim. Quite often, guests agree with the accusations and send the requested amount. Once Airbnb processes it, you get the money to your account.

But how to charge an Airbnb guest for damage if they refuse to pay and there is no security deposit? Then, you must involve Airbnb and ask for reimbursement under AirCover for Hosts.

What if an Airbnb guest refuses to pay for damages?

After you file a request following the rules of the Airbnb damage policy, the guest will have 24 hours to respond. If they ignore the request, decline the payment, or pay only partially, you can file a reimbursement request under Host Damage Protection, a part of AirCover for Hosts.

Airbnb Support will review the request to decide whether you are eligible for the Host Guarantee. If you are, it usually takes around two weeks to get the payment. 

Still, you may not receive the requested amount if Airbnb Support considers your documentation incomplete or suspicious. Deposits are a more reliable money-back guarantee for Airbnb guest damaged property than Airbnb damage policy.

Steve Aspesi, a former Super host, shares his experience on Quora:

“If the security deposit doesn’t not cover the damage or there is a disagreement as to who’s at fault or the dollar amount, Airbnb will step in to help make things right.

As a former Super host, I was told by Airbnb that they would cover anything not covered by the deposit if my guests and I were not willing to come to an agreement. It’s important to take pictures and have conversations done on the Airbnb platform so there’s a record of what is taking place.

6 ways to protect your Airbnb against damages

Besides wondering how does Airbnb pay for damages, you should take some precautions to detect troublesome guests and gather all critical details about potential visitors.

In our post on ways to prevent guest damage in vacation rentals, we spoke to Daniel Tocora, founder of AZ Getaway, who shared that they take damage prevention one step further by conducting thorough guest pre-screening to find red flags and spot bad guests beforehand.  

6 ways to protect Airbnb against damages

Here are more ways to protect your property and avoid Airbnb claims.

  1. Guest screening and ID verification

Even though manual pre-screening is possible, gathering, checking, and verifying everything manually would take too much time and effort. That’s why we recommend using automated guest screening tools.

Airbnb has a built-in verification process that requires guests to share their address and legal name, photo of a government-issued ID, and selfie. The ID verification can help hosts prevent fraud in most cases, but has its limitations.

To get another layer of identification, use tools like Know Your Guest. It checks your guest data referring to multiple authoritative databases and integrates with Airbnb for smooth ID verification. The double-check will greatly reduce the risk of fraud and help you decline suspicious bookings.

Here’s what Elizabeth Donn, Founder of The Reservation Specialists, tells about the Know Your Guest’s ID capture feature:

“Before using Know Your Guest, I had to vet each booking situation myself. Now, I am sure at least that the identity of the guest booking matches the actual guest’s.”

  1. Vacation rental damage protection

When you rent out short-term, it’s your responsibility to ensure the property is protected, even when guests misbehave and break things or leave stains. The easiest solution is renting through platforms that support rental damage protection with reliable policies, deposits, and claims processing.

In this respect, Airbnb is pretty secure. It has a damage policy with up to $3 million reimbursements, so you already get rental damage protection. Yet you may strengthen Airbnb guarantees additionally with protection from third-party providers like Superhog to sleep even more safely and stop worrying about your property.

  1. Vacation rental damage deposit

Besides Airbnb damage policy, the platform allows hosts to collect deposits. Use the opportunity to request a deposit, as you never know who will live in your property. The story of John Hildebrand shows how deposits can save you from unexpected expenses. 

“I don’t like to rely 100% on Airbnb. I always take it one step further – all of my guests have to go through Superhog’s Know Your Guest. We had all the guest details on file, and they’d already paid a $500 security deposit, meaning some of the costs were automatically covered, no matter what.”

John offered some advice to fellow property managers:

“If you’re trying to build a business, you must always protect your investment on so many different levels.”

Airbnb’s damage protection coverage is pretty comprehensive, but you may also use Superhog’s Know Your Guest to gather a $500 security deposit. John Hildebrand’s claim may be covered by Airbnb, but if not, he knows he can pursue the claim through Superhog. 

  1. Vacation rental damage waiver

Deposits may not help you cover wear and tear damage that happens with almost every booking just because people live in your property. Guests will occasionally break a glass, leave a stain, or scratch a table. These expenses are not worth claiming from a deposit, but if left unattended over and over, they will start draining your budget.

How to deal with such cases? Consider selling a waiver.

Waiver is another way to handle small damage and may be more effective than deposits in many cases. It is a non-refundable $50 charge included in the total rental price that waives the liability for any unintentional damages.

Waiver may be a win-win in many cases. While guests don’t have to worry about the financial consequences of minor damages, renters can cover the cost of repairs or accumulate this money for emergencies.

Airbnb doesn’t support vacation rental damage waivers directly, but you may use them as an add-on. Just connect Superhog’s Know Your Guest through an API to get this feature in addition to traditional deposits.

Nick Taylor, Managing Director of Nox, explained how Know Your Guest improves their guest experience and security:  

“Around 10% of our bookings cause some form of damage, of which, 90% can be covered by a damage waiver.”

By saving up the money they collect through the damage waiver, they always have a rainy day fund in case they need to pay for more damage.

Read more about how Nox uses rental damage waivers.

  1. Short-term rental insurance

Insurance companies and homestay platforms, including Airbnb, usually don’t support short-term insurance. Mid- and long-term insurance products are much more common but they won’t help you cover accidental damage.

So how to protect your property during dozens or short stays?

Use one or a combination of these products:

  • Damage Protection Plan for comprehensive coverage from $500 to $5,000,000
  • Damage Deposits to gather upfront fees and remit them after the successful checkout
  • Damage Waiver to collect a non-refundable fee that waives the liability for accidental damage

The listed products protect short-term rentals and have a convenient settlement process. To get paid for the damage, you only need to report an incident, send photo proof with a timestamp, and get paid.

  1. Learn to spot troublesome guests in advance

Though you cannot always detect a villain with 100% accuracy, some common behaviours and vacation rental scams call for caution.

Here are the red flags to watch out for:

  • Bad guest reviews — This is the most reliable indicator that guests may cause trouble, so check reviews. Hosting guests with no previous reviews can also be risky.
  • Bending the rules — Guests who try to dispute your house rules or convince you to make an exception (for example, to allow pets if you have a policy against it) may be problematic.
  • Payment difficulties — When guests don’t pay on time, their cards get declined, or they want to pay through alternative methods, this could mean trouble.
  • Odd-looking email address — A strange email address with random numbers could be created for the purpose of creating a new Airbnb account, therefore might be suspicious. 
  • Poor grammar — If your guest has difficulty communicating or uses “text” language, this could indicate a scammer. However, this might be because your guests are communicating in a second language.
  • Live locally — If your guest’s home address is nearby, this should raise your suspicions. They might be looking to rent a property to throw a party.

For John Hildebrand, whose story we’ve shared above, there were no obvious red flags. The guests asked to extend their stay a couple of times, and though there were some difficulties with processing their payment, the money eventually went through.

Because vacation rental scams are hard to spot, it’s vital to have a secure screening process such as Know Your Guest that can catch potentially troublesome guests before the booking begins. 

Know Your Guest captures all guests’ details and runs extensive background checks against authoritative databases for fraud, criminal activity, and sex offences.

List of guest red flags
List of guest red flags

Know Your Guest: The best way to protect your Airbnb property from guest damages

Know Your Guest is an all-in-one risk management platform for property managers. You can connect it to Airbnb through API integration to set up smooth ID verification and damage protection.

Property managers worldwide are already protecting their business with Superhog.

Saskia Van der Bolt uses Know Your Guest to protect her one-woman business.

She says:

“The biggest benefit is not having to chase after damage payments. It takes away the bureaucratic hassle, saves time and it calms down hosts who worry about damage to their properties.” 

It’s also helped grow her business. “The added security is a big selling point for homeowners. New hosts often worry that guests will ruin their homes. Although these fears are often unfounded, having the extra security can help to persuade homeowners to work with me.”

Benjamin, CEO of HOLT property management company uses guest screening and rental damage waivers:

“Superhog, with their Know Your Guest’s damage waiver and guest screening risk management technology, gave me positive vibes in their marketing materials, showing they were clearly all-in on this growing business, and in the initial calls. It was a no-brainer after all of our interviews.”

Protecting your Airbnb listing: FAQs

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