Will my insurance cover an Airbnb sublet?

Nicole Laoutaris
by Nicole Laoutaris June 1, 2020 / No Comments

I’m an Airbnb host but I don’t own my home. When I tell people I Airbnb sublet my apartment out for days, weekends and occasionally weeks at a time, they inevitably ask, “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.

Are you paying the best price for renter's insurance?

Compare personalized quotes from Canada's top providers for free

Is there insurance for my Airbnb sublet?

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 Airbnb insurance enough for a sublet?

No, Airbnb insurance doesn’t cover a tenant. It’s only for the landlord or homeowner. So, 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. The landlord has a vested interest in their property, so insurance companies will work with the landlord. But it doesn’t mean you can’t, you need to make a formal request to your landlord.

People are equally as surprised when I tell them my landlord approved me to host on Airbnb for subletting. We’re treating this much like a traditional sublet—more frequent and short-term sublets. For an Airbnb sublet or even a traditional sublet, 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. Under the same act, you can’t make more money than what you’re paying for in rent.

So far, I’m protected to an extent by Airbnb’s insurance because my landlord understands their risks for an Airbnb sublet. I’ve also begun sourcing information about tenant’s insurance. Even if you own your property, insurance policies are different for a condo insurance and a house insurance 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  only covers their property, but not your personal belongings. It also covers 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.

Questions your renter’s insurance provider will ask when getting quotes

It’ll take about 10 minutes to get a quote when you’re first applying. You’ll have to enter your postal code to begin. Be ready with your name, address, birthdate, email, and any co-applicant information. They’ll also about safety features like fire or burglar alarms. They’ll want to know when you want the policy to start and if you’ve ever made a claim with insurance before.

They key questions for renters are how much contents insurance you want. This is to protect your “stuff,” so best to be accurate as possible. Your stuff includes your bed, couch, TV, dishes, bicycle, computer, or stereo. If you have a lot of jewellery or rare art, there are limits and you may want to take out a special extension of coverage for your jewellery. While many providers say you must list at least $25,000, it doesn’t mean you have that much coverage for everything. A bicycle may only get $1,000 if someone steals it, there are often exclusions for rare art, or again, limits. You need to understand your policy.

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.

Desjardins Insurance Agents

My automatic estimated quote was $18.63. But the renter’s insurance estimate is not the final price, since there are more details for them to consider. After recalculation for a sublet, 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.

Does Desjardins insurance cover you if you rent your apartment on Airbnb?

No.

TD Insurance

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.

Does TD cover you if you do an Airbnb sublet?

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.

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 offer an Airbnb sublet?

No, but they do offer insurance to the homeowner.

How do I insure my Airbnb sublet?

Make sure to have a comprehensive tenant’s insurance policy and speak with your landlord so they understand their risks. Your landlord can get Airbnb home insurance from some select providers like Aviva or Square One. But again, they are only for the homeowner. There are third party insurers you can use as an add-on to an existing homeowner policy – like Duuo or April – but again, for homeowners only. You want your landlord on board.

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. If you’re Airbnb subletter creates damage, you’ll likely be paying out of pocket. 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.

Also read: