With $1 million of property damage protection for bookings through Airbnb’s Host Guarantee, it can be easy to grab on to the peace of mind Airbnb hopes the product provides. But to what extent are your properties protected?
Airbnb offers free property damage coverage to hosts - but only in certain circumstances. Airbnb’s Host Guarantee offers protection of up to $1 million USD in case of damage to the listings’ property, rooms or possessions.
This offer is a reasonable safety net to a vacation rental business, but this guarantee can fall short of your expectations because of its limitations. As we’ll explain, it’s a good backup plan, but it shouldn’t be your first or only line of defense.
The exclusions in the protection guarantee
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee offers property managers peace of mind when it comes to covering damages to their property. But Airbnb itself is quite clear about where the guarantee stops: “The Host Guarantee is not insurance and doesn’t replace your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.”
The Host Guarantee recovery process
Since Airbnb is the policyholder, every claim must go through its Resolution Center.
If your guest disputes your claim, you could end up with a fraction of the compensation you’ve claimed or none at all. Airbnb expects you to start by negotiating with the guest. If that doesn’t work, you’ll turn to Airbnb’s mediation.
The mediation process requires an investigation conducted by the listing site as well as lots of back-and-forth between the parties. Before any compensation can be forthcoming, Airbnb requires approval from various internal stakeholders - and if you do receive compensation, it’s possible that it won't be your original desired amount.
The result of this process could be your full claim, a partial amount or nothing - with little recourse if you aren’t happy with the result.
The time needed for this arbitration can really add up and limit the affected property’s availability and revenue stream in the meantime.
Your business relies on your reputation
Both the host and the guest have 14 days after checkout to review their experience on Airbnb using the platform’s double-blind feedback system. You have 14 days - or before your next guest checks in - to file a claim if there’s been any damage.
While you may receive authentic feedback regarding that guest’s stay, it is more likely - especially if you have a quick turnaround in reservations - that your guest will be able to leave a negative review after seeing that you filed a claim, leaving little for you to do but respond.
It may be worth the risk and effort to pursue a bad renter. But in the majority of situations, damage happens when a good guest has a bit of bad luck.
Is the cost of the repair worth the poor publicity? When your reviews depend on a guest’s reaction to a filed claim, the benefit you receive from seeking compensation is greatly reduced.
Determining your first line of defense
Traditionally, there are two ways to protect your properties before the Host Guarantee kicks in: security deposits and insurance.
Deposits have long been the standard within the vacation rental industry, but many property managers have been moving away from security deposits in favor of other solutions. They also aren’t hugely popular with guests, as approximately 80 percent of short-term renters would rather pay a nonrefundable fee for insurance protection.
Plus, security deposits have their limitations too on Airbnb. The deposit is not collected up front and, in case of damage, you’re the one who deals with the friction of negotiating with guests. This can leave you with a lot of uncertainty.
Insurance: a comprehensive solution with peace of mind
Offering your guests a small, non-refundable damage protection fee is the best of both worlds. Not only do you get comprehensive coverage that covers the gaps in the Host Guarantee, but you minimize the booking friction caused by large security deposits.
The low premiums associated with damage protection insurance allow you to:
- Protect your properties across all channels. Relying on Airbnb or another listing site’s products limit your protected bookings to one platform, which hinders your reach and hamstrings performance.
- Appeal to your guests’ needs. Renters would rather pay a damage waiver fee than a larger, refundable sum for a security deposit. Insurance gives your guests an option that works for them with coverage you can feel confident about too.
- Eliminate booking friction. Daunting security deposits make travelers rethink their plans to book with you, as many can’t shoulder the large credit hold. Damage protection insurance makes it easy to protect your properties without burdening for your guests.
Just as important, damage protection insurance is a solution that can scale as your vacation rental business grows. You can apply insurance to all channels, saving you the inconvenience of processing your different forms of coverage across your channel management strategy.
Introducing Damage Protection by Assurant
Purchasing damage protection insurance helps both parties have the best of both worlds - protection without the hassle. If you manage your business with MyVR, you can add Damage Protection by Assurant to all of your listings, across all channels. Once Damage Protection is configured and turned on, it is automatically applied to all new incoming bookings.