Water damage can happen to the best of us, and isn’t just caused by weather events or natural disasters! Faulty pipes, leaky faucets, and careless people can all contribute to a nightmare scenario that takes months to repair, putting your vacation rental completely out of commission.
Thankfully, I have some tips to share that will keep you and your Airbnb as protected from water damage as possible!
Is your Airbnb adequately protected from water damage? Only if you follow these tips!
- Have your home regularly inspected
- Update fixtures
- Check in on guests regularly
- Be sure you’re covered by insurance
Regular Inspections: Worth it?
You probably had an inspection when you bought your house, but was that the last time your water heater saw the light of day? Regular inspections are worth their weight in gold!
While some people see them as a waste of money, I view it like an annual checkup at the doctor’s office. You can’t just go when you’re sick, and if you do, you’ll end up paying even more down the road.
The timeframe for having your home inspected will vary a lot based on things like your home’s age, when the most recent repairs or renovations were, its construction quality, your climate, and more. In short, older homes in harsher climates will break more than newer ones in temperate climates, but your mileage may vary.
Burst pipes are a common cause of water damage, as are older or leaky pipes. The material that is the standard for construction changes over time, and some older homes may have been built with metal pipes prone to rust or warping.
Your water quality will be a huge factor here as well, as water that’s too hard can cause nasty buildups that will lead to major issues down the road. Have your water quality tested every once in a while to make sure you’re in the ideal range, and invest in a water softener or other supplement if needed.
Update Those Fixtures!
If something in your home needs replacing, don’t wait! It can (and will) break at the worst possible time, likely when a guest is staying with you.
Not everyone knows that you need to turn the faucet gently to the right to get hot water, or that you have to jimmy to garbage disposal switch to get it to come on. Guests tend to be a bit rougher on your things than you might be. You probably don’t think twice about the quirks of your home, but little things like these indicate larger issues waiting to happen.
Newer fixtures not only work properly, but they’re often more water and energy efficient, saving you money down the road. They also look stunning, and aren’t as expensive as you might think! A budget option now is better than losing the bet that your old bathtub faucet will last a few more years.
Checking In Regularly: Be an Active Host!
Making sure your guests notify you immediately in the event of water damage is critical to containing the damage and keeping repair costs low. Whether it’s a leaky roof, an errant faucet, a major spill or something else, the name of the game is getting things dry fast.
You’ll hopefully know if your home has any issues that would make it prone to these types of mishaps, but accidents can still happen.
Sometimes a guest could leave the faucet dripping and then come home to a flooded bathroom. A window left cracked overnight could mean a giant mess in the morning. Checking in on guests regularly can make a huge difference in the amount of damage that water will have a chance to do.
This goes double if you know there will be a big storm coming through, or if your area is prone to flooding! You may even want to mention something at check in if you foresee there being a possible issue. Most people will happily turn on a sump pump for you or double check that the windows are latched in order to avoid being flooded out of their vacation rental.
Rental Recon Tip: Want to make sure you’re getting the best short term rental insurance possible? Understandable! I recommend Proper Insurance for its comprehensive coverage options, pricing, and how much they care about the vacation rental market. Check out my review where I compare them to a strong competitor, Foremost Insurance!
The Low-Down on Airbnb and Vacation Rental Insurance
The good news is that you’ll have a lot of people “in your corner”, so to speak, when it comes to dealing with damage in your vacation rental. Both Airbnb’s services and your short term rental insurance company can work in conjunction to make sure you’re covered in the event that any damage occurs to your property.
Let’s start with what Airbnb offers. Airbnb has two different services, Host Protection and Host Guarantee, that everyone is automatically enrolled in free of charge when they sign up to host. These are basically both liability programs for Airbnb and its users.
The Host Protection Plan acts as a liability protection for hosts against lawsuits from guests. In the event that a guest is injured or has any other type of covered loss while at your property, Airbnb assumes the liability instead of the individual host. This is great, but not as comprehensive as actual insurance.
Their Host Guarantee is another protection for hosts designed to hold guests financially accountable for damage that they might do to your property. Under this plan, Airbnb acts as a mediator if you request reimbursement from a guest and they refuse to comply. Another fantastic option, but still not as thorough (or legally sound) as vacation rental insurance.
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The issue with both of these plans is that you’re relying on a third party’s goodwill, more or less, to ensure you get what you’re owed. While I’m sure they strive to keep everyone happy, in the end Airbnb is there to make money as a business, not to fight your legal battles. Insurance that you’ve paid for yourself, on the other hand, most definitely is!
This is why you need vacation rental insurance! You might be thinking “Well, I already have insurance for my house!”, which is probably right. You do have insurance for your house, but not for your business. Once you begin hosting on Airbnb, your home is now functioning as a business sin the eyes of your insurance company, and they’re going to treat it as such.
What does this mean for you? Well, if water damage (or any other damage) occurs to your property, your homeowners insurance isn’t going to cover you. Actually, they might even cancel your policy once they find out that you’re not using your home strictly as a private residence anymore!
Buying another insurance policy is an absolute necessity, and vacation rental insurance is designed to protect owners of short term rental properties specifically. I always recommend Proper Insurance to my readers, as they have a solid reputation and were founded specifically to cater to this market.
Once you have secured short term rental insurance (if you go through Proper, you can use the same policy for homes that double as commercial and residential!) you can feel much safer about being covered in the event of damage to your property. Whether this damage is caused by a guest, a force of nature, or just a freak accident, you can rest easier knowing you’re fully covered.