airbnb safety
983 days ago
 

Airbnb tries to get house back in order, guarantee scheme now effective

It took a bucket load of bad publicity and at least one trashed property, but Airbnb has finally launched its owner insurance scheme.

airbnb safety

Central to the scheme is a $50,000 reimbursement to a property owner as a result of theft or vandalism by a guest who booked the accommodation through Airbnb.

The guarantee (as Airbnb calls it) is currently available only to property owners in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, with a promise that other countries will be added in due course.

Airbnb is also talking up a string of new tools on the main site clearly aimed at rebuilding some of the fast-disappearing confidence and reputation surrounding the brand.

The system now includes a 24-hour emergency hotline, redesigned profiles for owners, verification dashboard (carrying profiles of users and social connections), pre-arrival calling system.

Now while some will scoff at the idea that it took a serious incident (an owner had their apartment trashed and wrote a blog post about it) before Airbnb took action, introduction of the guarantee scheme and a string of new tools coming on board so quickly illustrates how quickly Airbnb has had to grow up.

Cynics will also note that such swift action came rather coincidentally as the company was busily trousering $112 million worth of capital from a string of luminaries in the investment community.

Nevertheless, action is action and Airbnb will have gone some way to addressing the mounting concerns of recent weeks.

Perhaps one good move on the PR front is the appointment of ex-White House chief information officer Theresa Payton (of Command Consulting Group) to review the company’s security measures.

In terms of guarantee, clearly the devil with be in the detail. What happens when claims for wrecked apartments start flooding in (maybe Airbnb guests aren’t so cool after all), for example? What will be the oversight process?

The small print on the guarantee scheme says an owner can only be reimbursed for up to $50,000 in a calendar year, so multiple claims for the full or high price are just not going to happen, regardless of how often a property is damaged.

There is also the small matter of guarantees for guests – what happens, for example, if a guest is injured as a result of faulty equipment in a property (electrocution, falling fixtures or fittings, etc)?

At this stage Airbnb says it will only guarantee for the host. An official adds:

“However, guests can rest assured that our new 24 hour help line is available anytime at +1-855-424-7262. We know how important it is to talk to an actual person in an emergency, so when you need us, we’ll be here to help.”

 
 
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

 

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  1. Andy

    Hmmmmm,

    I would think the booking contract is between the customer and the property owner, so strictly speaking it would not be Airbnb’s issue if there was a problem with the let.

    I do think that they should display a big bold warning to all owners that they ought to check on their own insurance before letting to strangers. $50,000 would not cover a house burning to the ground and, like mentioned elsewhere, normal household insurance will not cover for an eventuality like that.

    Likewise public liability insurance is required for an owner before someone dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in their home and they’re left being sued, or worse in the UK, criminalised for corporate manslaughter. Do you fancy a stint in prison just for letting your house out?

    It is a matter of time before something like this happens and then there really will be some headscratching.

    Airbnb need to seriously get their act together. This is a classic example of a ‘corporate wannabe’ focusing on their revenue before putting proper robust policies and procedures in place to protect both sides of the deal with insurance. Why can’t they do a deal with an insurance provider to cover these costs for the owner and push it onto the price?

    Andy

     
  2. Peter Daams

    Kevin, small but important correction to your article – it shouldn’t be described as an “owner insurance scheme”

    From the terms:

    “These Airbnb Host Guarantee Terms are not intended to constitute an offer to insure, do not constitute insurance or an insurance contract, do not take the place of insurance and you have not paid any premium in respect of the Airbnb Host Guarantee. Furthermore, these Airbnb Host Guarantee Terms are not an insurance service agreement as defined in a standard ISO renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy.”

     
  3. Rune

    @vincent how are you doing it on voya.ge?

    airbnb is ebay not a travel company, they just take small chunks of the market, what you need is full service holiday apartments so partner with a cleaning company.

     
  4. Vincent

    I would like to see the curve of nightly cost for airbnb lodging as well as customer fidelity for a place once they have had direct contact with an owner…
    We do have to remember there is a big market for couch surfing, back packing, getting GHB in your drink and your kidneys stolen. Who we are today should try to remember how we traveled a decade or five ago.

     
  5. Christopher Lukezic

    To clarify, our customer service team is always there to help in the instance that a traveler finds the accommodations unsuitable. All a guest has to do is to call our 24/7 customer service line and we’ll help them out with finding new accommodations and anything else we can do to help. We facilitate payments to help in situations like this, ensuring that travelers money is protected in the instance that a listing is fraudulent.

    The Host Guarantee however is only for hosts.

    Christopher Lukezic
    Airbnb.com

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @christopher – the point being raised is that it’s all well and good having a 24 hour hotline for guests, but what happens if there’s an accident?

      Who is liable? Not Airbnb, clearly. So presumably you’re hoping that a guest’s personal insurance covers for such an eventuality?

       
      • John Pope

        @Kevin – nothing but crickets from AirBnB since your last query, guess they haven’t quite thought that one through yet.

        Talk about circling the wagons, hiring an ex-White House Chief Information Officer to look at security. Seriously? Smells like their investors will be demanding more and more adult supervision to manage the company moving forward. I suppose the prospect of losing 112 million will encourage finger nail biting and pulling out all the stops.

        Still think the smart money should be shorting this stock.

         
    • Murray Harrold

      … of course, if you checked the place out in the first place, you would know that, eh? What about the owner being a rather unsavoury owner with rather unsavoury intentions? Suppose we will just have to wait until someone get robbed/ violated (or worse. Any CRB (criminal records)checks on owners? No.

      This whole concept is irresponsible and possibly, downright dangerous for, say, single women travelers.

       
  6. Hotel Haiku

    Is this in place of standard buildings/content insurance? Or is it designed to work alongside it?

    People who are renting out their main residence are likely to be invalidating their insurance, as a standard main residence insurance policy doesn’t cover ‘sub-letting’.

    Sub-letting a main residence might also be a breach of a mortgage agreement.

     
  7. Murray Harrold

    “Tries” is the operative word, here.

    No guarantee for the client??? What happens if the owner turns out to be less than accommodating? Let alone double bookings, failure to provide services… we just have to wait for – what? – carbon monoxide from a boiler? Or an owner who attacks a client? Or worse?

    A 24 hour helpline – what a joke.

    This is nowhere near anything like what a client should be able to expect – simply not good enough.

    My advice is still – don’t touch them with a bargepole.

     
 
 

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