Pennsylvania Regulator Offers Consumer Tips for Airbnb Users

May 23, 2016

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller is offering consumer tips for both guests and hosts of home sharing sites like Airbnb, as use of these sites may rise in Pennsylvania with the state hosting two major national events — the U.S. Open Golf Tournament and the Democratic National Convention — this summer.

“With thousands of visitors from around the world coming to Pennsylvania for these two major events, homeowners may find an opportunity to rent their homes and attendees may need a place to stay as hotel rooms will fill quickly, leading to much greater use of sites such as Airbnb,” Miller said.

“While these are great ways for people to make extra money or find a room if hotels are full, both hosts and guests should keep important insurance considerations in mind when using Airbnb or similar sites,” she added.

The U.S. Open Golf Tournament will be played at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, near Pittsburgh, from June 13-19. The Democratic National Convention will be in Philadelphia from July 25-28.

Miller said visitors for these events will be in addition to the many thousands who come to Pennsylvania each summer, for events such as Philadelphia’s 4th of July celebration, and to visit outdoor areas and historic sites such as Gettysburg.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department offers the following suggestions for homeowners considering renting their homes through Airbnb or another online home sharing site:

  • Airbnb provides host protection liability insurance with coverage up to $1 million, but there are exclusions on the policy. Airbnb also provides host coverage for up to $1 million in damages, again with certain conditions. Hosts should review the policy and contact Airbnb directly to find out what is covered and what is not. If using a site other than Airbnb, contact the company and ask about any liability insurance protection offered.
  • Most homeowners policies make exclusions for any commercial activity taking place on the property. Homeowners may need a separate policy to cover short-term rental activity.
  • Homeowners should contact their insurance advisor or the insurer before renting their home, to discuss their plans and how they may impact insurance coverage.
  • Consider asking the guests to show proof of renters insurance before booking, to help protect guests’ possessions when in the host’s home.
  • If an incident occurs, take photos to document any damages.

For guests, the Insurance Department has these suggestions:

  • Consider travel insurance. This may be an affordable option that would provide protection in case of an injury or emergency.
  • Check the renters or homeowners policy to see whether it covers the guest’s possessions when traveling.
  • Talk to the host before booking, to learn what coverage they have for their home and possessions, and what liability coverage they have if the guest gets injured on their property.
  • If an incident occurs, take photos to document any damages.

“Home sharing services can provide another option for guests who prefer homes to hotels, or who can’t find a room when popular events sell out well in advance, and can offer additional income for homeowners,” Miller said.

“However, these services often fall outside traditional coverage for homeowners or renters, and without proper insurance, an incident can turn an exciting trip into an expensive headache.”

Topics Homeowners Pennsylvania Sharing Economy

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