The fast-growing online residential space sharing service Airbnb has added a $1 million liability insurance policy that protects those, including landlords and homeowners associations, facing lawsuits related to the renting of their properties through the service.
The new Host Protection Insurance policy, slated to start Jan. 15, 2015, is in addition to coverage Airbnb already provides for property damage.
The new policy covers a host if a guest is accidentally injured in a host’s building or on the property during a stay. It provides coverage for Airbnb hosts and, where the hosts are tenants, their landlord.
“We know that accidents are rare, but they can happen and we want our hosts to have protection if they do,” the company said in a blog post announcing the new policy.
The hosts do not have to pay for the coverage; it is included when they list a U.S. property.
The liability policy is only available with listings in the U.S. at this time, although the company said it is working on expanding it to other locations.
The Host Protection Insurance program provides hosts with protection for up to $1 million in liability in the event of a covered claim for bodily injury or property damage. The liability policy does not cover intentional acts by the host or other insured party; stays that occur outside the U.S; non-physical injuries such as accusations of slander, defamation of character, emotional distress; or injury caused by defects in a location, like drywall problems, mold, bed bugs, asbestos or pollution.
If a host (or landlord, as an additionally insured party) has other insurance that protects them, that other insurance will be their first line of insurance, and the Host Protection Insurance program will apply after that has provided any coverage, according to the company.
Airbnb boasts that more than 25 million guests have stayed in apartments, homes and spare rooms offered through the service globally. It operates in 34,000 cities and almost 200 countries.
Airbnb and ridesharing firms including Uber and Lyft have run into calls for regulation and opposition from state and local officials and established landlords, hospitality companies and taxi services in some locations. Critics say the firms gain an unfair advantage by skirting insurance, tax, safety and other government requirements.
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