Last Updated on June 16, 2023 by Rental Recon
A house fire is a nightmare, and whether it’s caused by you or one of your guests during a stay, you’ll definitely need to be properly covered. Damage repair is expensive, time-consuming, and will mean losing out on potential rental income. So are you protected?
Does Airbnb cover fire damage?
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee protects your home and property from damage caused by a guest during their stay with you. It offers up to $1 million in reimbursement for covered damage, but might not be an adequate substitute for short-term rental insurance.
Don’t know what short-term rental insurance is? Keep reading below, and make sure to get a 5-minute quote with Proper Insurance ASAP!
What Coverage does Airbnb Offer?
As far as fire damage is concerned, Airbnb offers two forms of insurance for their hosts. The Host Protection Plan and the Host Guarantee are designed to complement each other and work in conjunction with your vacation rental insurance to ensure you have the best, most comprehensive coverage possible.
We’ll start with the Host Protection Plan. As the name suggests, this plan is to protect hosts from liability issues with regard to guests staying at their Airbnb. It covers up to $1 million in liability insurance for any host using Airbnb, is free of charge, and has automatic enrollment.
A host would use this plan if a guest sued them for something that happened to them while staying at an Airbnb. A common issue is an injury or damage to the guest’s belongings. Instead of expecting you to pay out of pocket, Airbnb has instituted this program to keep you shielded from legal repercussions.
The Host Guarantee covers the other side of the issue: it protects hosts from damage done to their possessions or property by guests. Like the Host Protection Plan, it covers up to $1 million in damage.
This option would be used if a guest did something destructive while at an Airbnb, such as breaking furniture or even causing a fire. Rather than trying to have you collect money from the guest directly (which isn’t likely to be successful in cases where there is a lot of expensive damage), Airbnb offers this coverage at no cost.
Both of these programs are great to have, but Airbnb isn’t transparent on the likelihood of a settlement with them. In both cases, they will try to mediate the dispute between the host and guest to collect payment privately before they begin to consider paying out to either party themselves. To be sure that you’re truly covered, you need to look into short-term rental insurance.
Why do I need more coverage?
Airbnb even states on their website that their plans are designed to work in addition to vacation rental insurance. They recommend contacting your insurance directly to find out the specifics since every plan is different, but the main idea is that you do need additional coverage.
A lot of people assume that the insurance they already have on their home is sufficient, and Airbnb’s policies will supplement it just fine. This could be true in a limited number of cases, but the vast majority of people will need to purchase an entirely new policy.
The reason for this is simple: your insurance agreed to insure a private residence and its owner (just you!). Once you start hosting guests, you’re introducing all sorts of new liability into your home. You’re also conducting business operations out of the home, which is forbidden under most policies.
With these new liabilities come new costs, and an increased likelihood of something going wrong that will require an insurance payout. Insurance companies don’t love the idea of this, and they can even drop your policy in some cases! Make sure to contact them before you start hosting to find out the rules on this, but don’t be surprised if they tell you it won’t be covered.
In order to keep your home and business covered, you’ll need short-term rental insurance (also called vacation rental insurance). Some companies structure their policies to stack on top of your homeowners’ insurance, and some replace the policy entirely and act as a two-in-one.
My best recommendation is Proper Insurance. Their policies replace your existing policy, so you don’t have to juggle two different things from two different companies. They also only deal in vacation rental insurance, so you know you’re working with the pros who know and care about your industry.
They cover personal and commercial liability in addition to all sorts of damage categories, including fires! They even insure lost income due to certain issues, so you can take your time rebuilding and repairing without worrying about how to make ends meet in the meantime.
Rental Recon Tip: Have you checked your smoke detectors recently? Maybe you took the batteries out because the beeping was annoying (I’m guilty of doing this too!) and forgot about it. They’re your best tool for preventing and catching fires early, so don’t forget to make use of them!
How can I prevent fires in my Airbnb?
After you’ve made sure all your smoke detectors are working properly, there are a few more steps you can take to reduce the risk of fires in your vacation rental. Two of the biggest causes of house fires are kitchen fires and unattended candles, both of which are risk factors at an Airbnb rental as well. Let’s discuss how to mitigate these risks!
First, I actually wouldn’t recommend offering candles in your Airbnb at all. They’re more trouble than they’re worth, honestly, and I find that guests don’t really expect them anyways. They’re likely to be left unattended or knocked over, and not everyone can tolerate the smoke or lingering smell in the house.
Instead, try something like a candle warmer or wax melts if you want the same cozy vibe with much less risk. No open flame models, though! Electronic only. While these can still get pretty hot, many of them come with an automatic shutoff or a timer, making them much less likely to cause any issues.
As far as kitchen fires, there’s only so much you can do to prevent them. Being smart while cooking isn’t something you can necessarily enforce with your guests, so if you want to be extra cautious you can ask them not to cook at all. An alternative would be to offer things like a toaster oven or microwave, but not a full stove or oven.
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What if a guest damages my Airbnb?
If a guest damages your Airbnb, you’ll need to come prepared if you want to make a claim to the company or your insurance to get reimbursement. The first thing they’ll want to see is some sort of proof of the damage. This should be at least a picture, and the more evidence you can present, the better.
You should also have already tried contacting the guest (once you’ve confirmed the damage was, in fact, caused by them) to ask if they’d be willing to repay you. If they decline, then it’s appropriate to escalate the issue to Airbnb through the Resolution Center.
Guest damage would be covered under the Host Guarantee. Once you file a complaint, Airbnb will reach out to the guest themselves to see if they’re willing to pay (again). If they still refuse, Airbnb can collect payment from them anyways, but it can be a long process and there’s never really a guarantee.
If Airbnb doesn’t pan out, contact your insurance agency. I actually recommend contacting them around the same time as Airbnb just in case things don’t go as planned. They should be able to reimburse you and won’t have to mess around with trying to get money from the guest.