Who is liable for accidents at Airbnb rentals?

When people are traveling, the decision on where to stay is no longer a choice between either hotels or motels. In recent years, options for renting homes and other personal properties through companies like Airbnb have become more and more popular. While the trend may be new, the liability issues that these lodging options face are not.

This question of liability is a complicated one to answer. Generally speaking, hotels are liable and insured for injuries suffered on hotel grounds. But when it comes to properties owned by individuals that were not necessarily intended for commercial use, people can be confused about who will cover damages.

In regard to insurance, coverage options vary based on the type of rental. For those available through Airbnb, automatic coverage for liability up to $1 million per incident is provided to hosts free of charge from the company. Although, Airbnb also urges homeowners to also seek comprehensive coverage.

Competing company HomeAway, however, leaves insurance coverage solely in the hands of the homeowners. Unfortunately, some homeowners feel that having homeowner insurance will be enough to cover accidents suffered by guests staying at the property. This is not necessarily the case; many policies do not provide coverage for incidents stemming from commercial activity.

What this means for guests of Airbnb or HomeAway rentals is that coverage for accidents may be lacking. While Airbnb does offer the $1 million coverage in the event that a homeowner’s insurance denies a claim, damages for serious accidents could easily exceed that amount. Guests of HomeAway properties may be devastated to learn that a host failed to secure a policy that covers commercial activity.

The matter of insurance coverage is certainly a troubling one, though it is not the only challenge victims of accidents at hotels and other temporary lodgings may face. In many cases, property owners may try to blame an accident on the victim or some other party in an effort to avoid taking responsibility for damages. Insurance companies may also deny claims for similar reasons.

If you have been injured while staying on someone else’s property, including temporary lodgings, it is crucial that you understand your options for compensation. You should not have to pay the price of another party’s negligence; with legal support, you may not have to.

Source: The New York Times, “Death in Airbnb Rental Raises Liability Questions,” Ron Lieber, Nov. 13, 2015