Having a guest steal from your vacation rental is a rare occurrence, thankfully, but it can and does happen. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to prove and even more difficult to get the offended to face consequences. Airbnb offers some protection for its hosts, but it’s not always a guaranteed outcome.
Does Airbnb offer guest theft insurance?
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee explicitly states that it does not protect against “theft of cash and securities”, but does not go into details on what kind of theft it does protect against (if any). To get complete coverage, you need vacation rental insurance.
Not covered yet? Check out Proper Insurance to ensure that you’re safe from thieving guests!
What Airbnb DOES Cover
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee is like a pared down insurance policy that all Airbnb hosts are automatically enrolled in. The basic gist is that Airbnb wants to ensure that hosts are protected from excessive damage caused by guests.
As stated above, however, it doesn’t really specify if it protects against theft or not. It could be interpreted that theft falls under the umbrella of “property damage”, even though it’s technically not damage. Regardless, it clearly states that Airbnb does not cover any theft of cash, savings bonds, or stock certificates, so make sure to have these securely stored away.
It can also be used in lieu of a security deposit, but making a claim is a lengthy process so I would recommend implementing a deposit instead of relying on Airbnb. The deposit can be used to cover damage or theft, but you’ll need to make sure you have concrete proof of wrongdoing before you’re able to file a claim!
If the amount of theft exceeds what would be covered by the deposit, you can still use the Host Guarantee as a backup option. Again, you’ll need lots of proof, so come prepared with photos, videos, and receipts when possible.
Trying to prove theft is tricky. After all, it’s hard to prove something is missing! It’s much easier to prove damage. The best trick to have up your sleeve isn’t really a trick at all: external security cameras!
Cameras outside your Airbnb can deter all kinds of bad behavior. They prevent extra guests from showing up, as well as unauthorized pets or anything else you don’t want tagging along. If your camera catches a guest making off with your newest lamp or favorite wine glasses, you’ve basically got all the proof you need!
I like the newer doorbell-style cameras like the Ring camera. They’re recording constantly, and you can watch a live feed of them whenever you like. They’ll also notify you when anyone enters or leaves, and automatically send you a video as well. They’re just handy to have for vacation rentals in general, as you can communicate with guests live in case of any issues.
Why You Need Vacation Rental Insurance
Vacation rental insurance is there to fill in the gaps where Airbnb (or whatever booking service you use) doesn’t have you covered. Those services are there to make money and keep guests happy first and foremost, so it’s important not to count on them too much for issues like theft.
You might be thinking, “I already have insurance on my house, why do I need another policy?”, and you wouldn’t be the only one! The truth is that homeowners insurance only covers a private, residential home. Once you start hosting guests and making money, you’re participating in a business operation.
Once you’re a business, you need to insure yourself like one. Your homeowners insurance can even terminate your policy in some cases, because by hosting and not changing your insurance you’ve violated their terms. This is not ideal, obviously, so make sure you’re covered before the first guest ever sets foot through your door!
In order to best protect yourself from theft in your Airbnb or vacation rental, I highly recommend Proper Insurance. Their comprehensive policies cover just about anything you could think of, and you can add on optional coverage for less common damage such as bedbugs.
They even have no limit on theft claims, so you’ll stay protected no matter what. There’s no limit on damage caused by a guest or vandalism either, which is great if any of these are recurring issues for you or if you have a high-value rental property.
Their policy replaces your current coverage, so you can cancel your homeowners insurance once Proper’s goes into effect. It’s so much easier to manage one policy than two (or more), which is one of the reasons they’re my top choice!
How to Protect Your Rental From Theft
Protecting your rental form any kind of damage starts with having a strong, comprehensive house rules manual. It doesn’t have to be some intimidating book you make guests read and sign before staying with you, but a simple list of instructions and frequently asked questions send before check in will do wonders.
If you offer any complimentary things that guests can take home (think local foods, shampoo or toiletries, cards, etc.) be sure to explicitly state this. Doing so will help guests avoid confusion while also implying to them that nothing else in your Airbnb is theirs for the taking.
I’ll say it again: the very best thing you can do to prevent and discourage theft is installing some type of video surveillance outside your Airbnb! While cameras inside aren’t generally allowed (not to mention the fact that they’re creepy), outdoor cameras that cover all the entrances of the home are generally more than enough to prevent guests from stealing anything too big to hide in a pocket or under a jacket.
They’ll also give you built-in proof in case something does get stolen, which Airbnb and your insurance company will most certainly need to have in order to get you reimbursed. Often, the deterrent of seeing a camera is enough by itself to keep any sticky-fingered guest from trying to make off with your stuff.
Rental Recon Tip: If theft becomes a recurring issue at your rental, consider removing commonly stolen items entirely or downgrading to less expensive things you won’t miss. Silverware, blankets, and towels are popular items for thieves, so make sure to keep track of how many you have to determine when they go missing.
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What happens if an Airbnb guest steals?
If a guest steals from your Airbnb and you want to take action against them, there is a process that needs to be followed to help you get the best outcome possible.
First, before going to anyone else, you need to contact the guest and see if they’ll admit to taking something (as long as you’re sure they did). If they admit to it, you can request money from them and, assuming they pay, be done with the situation.
If they don’t admit to stealing or refuse to pay, you can file a claim through Airbnb’s Resolution Center. Airbnb will ask for verification of the theft, which can be hard to provide sometimes. If Airbnb isn’t able to help you, file a claim through your insurance agency as a last resort.