Understanding the limitations of the Airbnb guarantee
Posted by Alex Anderson on March 31, 2021 · Hosts
One of the big questions we get asked when speaking to Airbnb hosts is “but won’t the Airbnb Guarantee cover me for that?”
It’s a grey area and unfortunately, the answer is often “no”.
The Airbnb Guarantee is not an insurance product and to Airbnb’s credit, they do state that fairly clearly on the info page for the guarantee.
Despite this, when we asked 1,000 potential hosts and guests if Airbnb provides insurance for damage to people’s homes, a massive 47.5% of them said yes.
For the most part, this is down to a simple misunderstanding of what it is that Airbnb has on offer – the guarantee can be misinterpreted as an all-singing, all-dancing, free of charge solution to all your problems if you don’t take the time to fully understand it.
That being said, an argument can also be made that even those with a comprehensive understanding of the guarantee won’t always get what’s advertised if they have to make a claim.
This is because Airbnb isn’t legally obligated to cover claims just because the rules have been followed.
All claims are at Airbnb’s discretion and there are numerous loopholes that could mean your claim won’t be paid.
So what ARE the rules with the Airbnb Guarantee? Well, we think it’s fair to say that no one really knows, but we’re going to do something that seems even more impossible than the discovery of bigfoot, and try to highlight the key points as best we can!
The Airbnb host guarantee
For UK residents, the $1,000,000 USD worth of protection that sounds so impressive actually converts to around £725,350.00 GBP.
That sounds A LOT less impressive doesn’t it?
Especially when you consider (and this is the most important point) that the cover amount is actually the total protection limit for all guests, at any one time, worldwide.
This means that you’re sharing that $1,000,000 with thousands of hosts all over the world.
The likelihood is that there isn’t enough money in the pot to actually cover multiple large claims.
Even if just one large claim is dealt with, the remaining amount might be so small that a substantial amount of the smaller claims might not be able to be dealt with properly and if the limit is reached, then I’m afraid there’s not much you can do.
The Airbnb guarantee does NOT cover:
- The theft of cash or other securities.
- Intentional damage caused by guests, unexpected growth of fungi, disease, cash loss, loss of earnings to you due to damage, any damage or injury to pets, any damage to shared or communal areas.
- Protection against being sued by the guest for bodily injury or abuse during their stay (even if the incident had nothing directly to do with you or your property).
That’s why we created SUPERHOG. By validating guests, SUPERHOG backs host members with our own £1m guarantee for every booking. SUPERHOG also provides a virtual security deposit, so hosts can have the safety of one without having guests pay for one.
Our guarantee will reinstate up to £1,000,000 worth of property damage (£100,000 for your contents) and if a guest suffers an injury at your property, we will protect you against costs that you are found liable for, up to £1m.
The Airbnb host guarantee when it comes to keys and communal areas
Whilst Airbnb can offer some level of protection inside the walls of your home, as soon as you step out of those walls, you’re completely unprotected.
This might not seem like a big deal for those who let out their houses, but for those that let out flats, your protection level is going to be near non-existent.
For example, if your guest decides to have a party in your flat after you clearly stated that they were not allowed to and the landing outside your flat was trashed as well as the flat itself, you’ll have to cover the cost of the damages to the landing area yourself.
If it’s outside of your flat walls, according to the Airbnb Guarantee, it’s not Airbnb’s problem, even to the extent of not covering keys if they’re misplaced outside of the home.
The more guests you have in your home, the higher the likelihood of your keys going missing from time to time.
If this happens, because they’ve been taken outside the home in order for them to be ‘misplaced’ and because the lock that will need changing is technically on the outside of the flat, you’ll have to foot the bill for getting locks changed and new keys cut yourself.
There are ways around this, of course – you could get an automated locking system added to your door, which allows you to manage who can and cannot enter the property from anywhere in the world via an app on your smartphone, all without the need for a physical key.
This could be a potentially ideal solution for those worried about losing keys, but it’s worth bearing in mind the insurance implications of using this kind of kit.
Automated locking solutions require you NOT to deadlock your door, so if the system fails and your place is broken into, you would not be covered even if you did have actual insurance on top of the Airbnb Host Guarantee.
If you’re not sure where to begin your search for an automated lock company, why not check out our blog post about vacation rental technology.
The Airbnb host guarantee claim window
For your claim to even be looked at in relation to the Airbnb Guarantee, you must submit it no later than 14 days after the stay it is related to has ended.
During this time, you also have to have fully exhausted all potential resolutions between yourself and the guest privately. Airbnb will only get involved with a claim once communication has broken down between the host and guest.
This may not seem like too much of an issue for some, but there are multiple scenarios that mean hosts miss the opportunity to make use of the guarantee.
If you do manage to get a claim submitted in time, you then have 30 days to settle it and send a payment request form to the Airbnb team.
If for any reason your claim cannot yet be settled, a written request must be sent to Airbnb to extend the settlement period, the decision of which will be left up to the discretion of Airbnb.
Miss this 30-day deadline, and your case will be closed and unfortunately, there isn’t really anything you can do about it.
If you do manage to get your claim settled and payment request sent off in time, you’ll then have to wait up to 3 months for payment to actually be processed and the time it takes is all dependant on how many claims are going through for that pot of money at the time.
Not ideal if something is in need of urgent repair and you can’t afford to go forward with it without the claims money.
For SUPERHOG members, our resolutions team is always on hand to help you if a guest damages your property or is injured. Members will always have a real human to speak to and no automated email responses or long wait times.
Airbnb’s claims process for the host gurantee
The actual process that Airbnb hosts have to go through to get reimbursement on the host guarantee is what we hear the most about from our customers.
Here are just a few snippets from a case study we put together recently from a customer’s actual experience with trying to make a claim through the Airbnb Host Guarantee:
“The whole process with Airbnb was so messy and appalling, but the long and short of it is there is no phone number to call for claims, the only communication is online.”
“I assumed because my claim was so big someone would call me and talk me through the process but I was never able to talk to anyone.”
“The people I dealt with online could not access any of the information I had originally submitted so they had nothing to refer to when talking to me.”
“It was a very stressful, time-consuming, frustrating and upsetting process. All that needed to happen was for someone from the Airbnb team to call me and explain the process. I was feeling around in the dark, I had no idea how it was going to work.”
“Airbnb handle lots of little claims, but they are not prepared for the bigger claims and they don’t have a system in place to handle them.”
“They allowed a 15-year-old to make a booking but were not prepared to compensate me for that.”
“I had a sofa worth £1,200 and it was drenched in beer and covered in cigarette stains, and because I only sent one photo, they only reimbursed me for one cushion cover, which was £24.”
“At the end, my claims handler emailed me saying he was going on holiday for 2 weeks and that he would be back in touch when he returned. When he got back, he eventually emailed me with my settlement offer and said if I do not respond in 24 hours then the case would be closed. I was on holiday at the time and didn’t see the email, so the case was closed.”
The Host Guarantee small print
If you take the time to properly read the small print of the Airbnb Host Guarantee (and you definitely should!), you’ll definitely find a few clauses in there that are designed for things to not work in your favour.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of:
- Local tax: if you’re investigated by the taxman as a result of your hosting activity, Airbnb will not cover any of the legal fees.
- Conflict of interest: if you’re not happy with the outcome of your claim with Airbnb, you won’t be able to take legal action against them.
- Property changes: There is an exoneration clause that states Airbnb do not even have to have an active guarantee surrounding your property if you change it in any material way. We cannot work out exactly what this clause means – but it is certainly worrying.
An alternative solution
SUPERHOG is the digital trust platform enabling hosts, operators and guests to confidently transact in the short-term rentals space.
SUPERHOG provides a digital toolkit including booking validation and world beating guarantees that protect short-term rental users before, during and after a booking.
By incorporating our friction-free guest validation into your guest journey, we’ll be able to protect your home and maximise your revenue by minimising risk and preventing damage from occurring.