BLOG: Planning to Stay with Airbnb in PA this Summer? Check Out These Important Tips

By: Sophie Stone, Deputy Press Secretary

May 18, 2016

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department yesterday offered important consumer tips for both guests and hosts who plan to use home sharing sites like Airbnb.

The department expects that use of these sites may rise in Pennsylvania, as the state is hosting two major national events this summer: the U.S. Open Golf Tournament and the Democratic National Convention.

Thousands of visitors from around the world will be traveling to Pennsylvania for these two major events.

In addition, many thousands of people travel to Pennsylvania each summer for a variety of reasons:

  • To attend events such as Philadelphia’s 4th of July celebration.
  • To enjoy the state’s great outdoor areas for activities such as fishing, hiking, and boating. For example, Erie County’s Presque Isle State Park, which attracts up to 4 million visitors annually, in March was voted the country’s best freshwater beach in a contest sponsored by USA Today.
  • To visit historic sites such as Gettysburg and Philadelphia.

As a result, many homeowners may find an opportunity to open up their homes, and visitors may need a place to stay as hotel rooms fill up.

Sites like Airbnb are great ways for hosts to make extra money and for guests to find an affordable place to stay if hotels are full. However, both hosts and guests should keep important insurance considerations in mind when using Airbnb or similar sites.

Without proper insurance, an incident can turn an exciting trip into an expensive headache.

If I’m considering opening my home to visitors through Airbnb or another online home sharing site, what should I know?
  1. Airbnb provides host protection liability insurance with coverage up to $1 million, but there are exclusions on the policy. Airbnb also provides host coverage for up to $1 million in damages, again with certain conditions. Hosts should review the policy and contact Airbnb directly to find out what is covered and what is not. If using a site other than Airbnb, contact the company and ask about any liability insurance protection offered.
  2. Most homeowners’ policies make exclusions for any commercial activity taking place on the property. You may need a separate policy to cover short-term rental activity.
  3. Contact your insurance professional or company before opening your home to discuss your plans and how they may impact your coverage.
  4. Consider asking your guests to show proof of renters insurance before booking, to help protect their possessions when in your home.
  5. If an incident occurs, take photos to document any damages.
If I’m planning to travel using Airbnb or another online home sharing site, what do I need to know?
  1. Consider travel insurance. This may be an affordable option to protect you in case of an injury or emergency.
  2. Check your renters or homeowners policy to see whether it covers your possessions when you are traveling.
  3. Talk to the host before booking, to learn what coverage they have for their home and possessions, and what liability coverage they have if you are injured on their property.
  4. If an incident occurs, take photos to document any damages.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has additional tips for consumers considering using home sharing services.

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