Does Renter’s Insurance Cover Me if I Rent My Apartment on Airbnb?

Nicole Laoutaris
by Nicole Laoutaris April 9, 2016 / No Comments

I’m an Airbnb host but I don’t own my home. When I tell people I rent my apartment out for days, weekends and occasionally weeks at a time I’m inevitably asked, “aren’t you afraid something is going to happen?”

Quite simply, I’m not. I’ve been using the service as a host and guest for more than a year. I’ve never met any of my guests in person because I provide the key via a lockbox located outside my door. Yet, I feel trust in this community of travelers.

I do take certain precautions, like taking my laptop with me for the duration of their stay and hiding paperwork, mail and other small valuables. I have conversations with my guests over the Airbnb platform before I confirm their stay, and I ensure I’m only renting to those who have at least some positive reviews.

Still, I’m not numb to the Airbnb horror stories and I do consider my plan if  something should happen while someone was renting my apartment. So far, I’ve relied on Airbnb’s coverage. Even in the best cases, accidents can still happen.

How am I covered?

Become a host and get $200

List your space and you’ll receive $200 after your first successful booking as a brand new Airbnb host (currently available for Toronto and Vancouver only).

Host protection insurance vs. host guarantee program

Airbnb’s host protection insurance “will only act as the primary insurance coverage for incidents related to an Airbnb stay, but it’s available to hosts regardless of their other insurance arrangements.” It’s coverage up to US$1 million for eligible countries in the event of third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage. But, it’s not available in every country and there are some instances where it won’t cover you: assault or battery (by the host or any other insured party), fungi or bacteria, pollution, and others.

There’s also a host guarantee program. It’s not insurance, and also doesn’t replace your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. It covers the host in rare instances of property damage to their belongings or home by the person staying there. This also has limitations. It doesn’t cover “cash and securities, collectibles, rare artwork, jewelry, pets or personal liability…loss or damage to property due to wear and tear.” You can accommodate for this by adding a security deposit to your listing.

Is it enough?

Before considering insurance options, it’s important to note that if you’re a tenant, you must get consent from your landlord before renting your unit. People are equally as surprised when I tell them my landlord approved me to host on Airbnb. We’re treating this much like a traditional sublet—more frequent and shorter period sublets. For Airbnb or other subletting situations, you could face legal action and in some cases an eviction if you do this without the consent of the owner. According to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, unless otherwise prescribed, you can’t sublet for a rent that’s greater than your own.

So far, I’m protected to an extent by Airbnb’s insurance and I’ve been given permission to sublet my apartment. I’ve also begun sourcing information about renter’s insurance. Even if you own your property, insurance policies are different for a condo and a house so it’s really important to do your research. For my kind of dwelling and as a renter, I’m looking at around $15­ to $30 per month. Your landlord’s insurance usually only covers the property, but not your belongings, or living expenses for disruption if you’re unable to live in your unit during repairs due to damage, for example. Renter’s insurance will add protection for that and provide added security if you or a visitor is injured.

Is an Airbnb guest considered a visitor or is my insurance void with a paying subletter?

I looked into basic policies through three popular providers, what they each cover, and whether or not that applies to Airbnb.

State Farm

How to apply: Head to State Farm’s Renters Insurance page and enter your postal code to begin. The whole process takes about 10 minutes and you’ll need to be prepared to enter your information into a series of online forms: name, address, birthdate, policy start date, email, co-applicant information, an estimated dollar value of your personal property value (minimum $25,000), and details around your safety features like fire and burglar alarms, and your neighbourhood.

My automatic estimated quote was $18.63. Then you’ll be emailed a more detailed quote. I received an increase to $27.36 per month.

What’s included: Fire or lighting, windstorm or hail, freezing of plumbing system, theft.

What’s not included: Bodily injury or property damage that’s expected or intended by the insured; business pursuits; professional services provided or not provided; operation, use or maintenance of aircraft, motor vehicles, and certain watercraft.

Are you covered if you rent your apartment on Airbnb?

No.

TD Insurance

How to apply: Go to TD’s Renter’s Insurance page. You’ll see three levels of coverage: Platinum Plus Advantage, Platinum Advantage, and Gold Advantage. You can click through to see the differences in those policies. When you’re ready, click “Get an accurate quote – fast” and be prepared to submit your postal code, the year your home was built, total square footage (excluding basement), percentage of basement that’s finished, type of roof and year roof was last renovated, heating system, alarm system (if any), number of smoke detectors and any claims history (reason, year and month).

This process also took about 10 minutes, and I received an estimated quote of $61.33 per month.

What’s included: The contents of your rental unit due to loss, theft or damage; personal liability coverage if a visitor hurts themselves; living expenses if loss or damage forces you to live elsewhere for a short time.

What’s not included: Mysterious disappearance was the only clear exclusion before you get your personalized quote. This is loss of property when the cause can’t be identified.

Are you covered if you rent your apartment on Airbnb?

No.

Square One

You may be unfamiliar with this provider: Square One is a licensed agency in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario that has been around since 2011. Square One differs slightly from major providers because they offer personalized insurance, based on your needs.

How to apply: Go to Square One’s tenant insurance quote page, where they are quite visible with a $15 per month starting rate. Start typing your address, move to a page for your personal information and birth year. You’ll need to provide information on the type of dwelling (basement apartment, condo, etc.), the year you moved in, if this is your primary or vacation residence, your previous address, the year your current house was built, number of storeys, construction type, square footage, roommates, smoke detectors and burglar alarms, and detailed value of your personal property. You can select the value of specific items like bicycles and sporting equipment, silverware, fine art, musical instruments, and other types of personal property. You can also select whether or not you’d need additional living expenses (if you couldn’t live in your apartment for a short period of time), liability protection, identity theft, and legal protection.

This was the most personalized application process and my estimated quote was $16.35.

What’s included: Dependent on your personalized policy, they include all major loss types, including earthquakes, hail and wind storms, and sewer backups; blanket coverage for personal property and add-on options for specialized property; living expenses if you’re forced out as a result of damage or loss; personal and premises liability.

What’s not included: Identity theft or legal advice (both can be added-on), loss or damage from coastal floods, landslides, acts of terrorism, or war.

Are you covered if you rent your apartment on Airbnb?

No.

The bottom line

It’s always important to do your research and understand the terms and conditions of your policy. If I had already been paying for renter’s insurance, I would be violating my terms and conditions, and voiding my insurance by subletting my apartment.

So Airbnb hosts beware! If you’re a tenant and are currently holding renter’s insurance, you should call your provider and find out the details of your policy. You’re likely not covered in the event of an incident if it’s caused by your Airbnb guest. When I asked around, I was told to check with an insurance broker who might be able to find me a policy while subletting. The hunt continues.

Ready to become a host? Click here to list your space and you’ll receive $200 after your first successful booking as a brand new Airbnb host. Courtesy of RateHub and Airbnb (currently available for Toronto and Vancouver only).

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Flickr: Loozrboy