Airbnb Guest Insurance - What Do You Need To Know?

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Airbnb Guest Insurance

You may have found it difficult to find an answer online regarding Airbnb guest insurance, whether you’re wondering what protections are provided by hosts/Airbnb or what coverages you’ll need to insure yourself financially—perhaps aware you might need to cancel/rearrange a booking at short notice. We’ve got you covered, and have put together this guide answering all the questions you might have about insurance as an Airbnb guest.

The average Airbnb stay is just over 3 days, so having to cancel or rearrange accommodation can be costly, especially considering Airbnb and its hosts generally don’t offer refunds/compensation unless your cancellation is caused by a fairly specific set of circumstances (property issues, travel restrictions, etc.) if you need to cancel close to the booking date.

Here’s everything you need to know about protecting yourself as a guest while renting through Airbnb.

Does Airbnb provide insurance for guests?

As of writing, Airbnb does not provide any coverage for their guests beyond the standard refunds for cancellations. The only time you’re likely to receive a full refund is if the host cancels your booking, you’ve cancelled well in advance (3 months+) or you’re forced to cancel due to an extenuating circumstance.

As a guest, it can leave you in limbo somewhat—if a host cancels your booking with short notice then you might be stuck waiting to receive your refund from Airbnb (the process can take up to 2 weeks if you’re unlucky with timings/public holidays), potentially leaving you without the funds required to make another booking.

Naturally, however, you will be entitled to a refund (partial/full) if there’s an issue with the property, either preventing you from staying (vermin) or if the listing was falsely advertised (different number of bedrooms). You can check out the Airbnb Guest Refund guide if you want more information, but here are a few of the circumstances that would allow for a full refund:

  • You’re unable to travel due to a serious illness
  • You can’t access the property, or the host hasn’t made an effort to ensure you can collect the keys
  • The property isn’t clean/safe when you arrive (vermin, insects, uncleaned sheets, plates, etc.)
  • Key amenities are missing/broken (no access to water, electricity, etc.)
  • Property isn’t as listed (different number of bedrooms, no disabled access, etc.)

Make sure to take photos or videos of any of the issues you face. You’ll need to submit your claim within 24 hours of arriving, and you’ll want to have access to wi-fi and a phone to answer any additional questions Airbnb will have, and keep in mind that your refund might not be with you immediately.

If you’re looking for more effective coverage as an Airbnb guest than a refund (which might not even cover the full amount of your initial booking), you’ll want to consider travel insurance. It can offer protection against cancellations or interruptions (with a valid reason, of course). Some travel insurance policies will include a ‘Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)’ clause, which, as the name suggests, covers you to cancel your booking for any reason.

Hosts set their own cancellation policy for any stay under 28 days, meaning especially harsh hosts may refuse cancellations altogether (unless you’re covered by the Airbnb extenuating circumstances policy). For hosts who do allow cancellations, the end value of your refund will depend on a few circumstances, such as:

  • Cancellation date vs booking date: you’re likely to receive a higher refund if you cancel well in advance, allowing the host to arrange for another guest to use the property
  • Cancellation cut-off: Some properties (especially in high demand areas) may have a final date after which you’re not eligible for any refund

What is the Airbnb guest refund policy?

Airbnb’s guest refund policy sets out the requirements for guests to be eligible for a refund. Simply put, Airbnb’s job is to generate income for its hosts, so you’re unlikely to be eligible for a full (and in some cases even a partial) refund if you want to cancel for an ‘invalid’ reason, say you’ve had a change of heart or want to stay somewhere else.

From a legal perspective, Airbnb’s guest refund policy doesn’t constitute a formal insurance policy, meaning Airbnb sets their own terms & conditions and completes its own checks into any ‘claim’. This can leave you at their will somewhat, and some guests online claim that their issues were legitimate and Airbnb opted not to offer them a refund/compensation. If you’re looking for more protection, you’ll want to consider a proper travel insurance policy.

The terms set out in Airbnb’s guest refund policy aren’t overly complicated, so we’ve summarised the issues that should make you eligible for a refund. As we mentioned, guests online complain that it can be difficult to claim through Airbnb, so if you do need to make a claim make sure you’ve got as much evidence prepared as possible.

  • The host fails to provide you with access to the accommodation
  • The host cancels the booking shortly before you’re due to arrive
  • The listing is inaccurate (size, number of bedrooms, location, specific amenities)
  • The accommodation is unclean
  • Health & safety issues with the property
  • Vermin

There are a few conditions you’re required to meet before making a claim, too:

  • You are the guest booked into that accommodation
  • Report the issue within 24 hours, including pictures/videos
  • Be available to respond to questions/requests from Airbnb
  • You must not have caused the issue yourself
  • Make an effort to fix the issue with the host
  • Vacate the property in a reasonable time

That last point is important. Essentially, if you have a minor issue but choose to stay in the property you’re not eligible for a full refund. Airbnb mentions you may still qualify for a discretionary partial refund, but it might be fair to question their willingness to issue these after reading online.

Airbnb cancellation by guest policy

Airbnb is designed to help its hosts make as much money as possible, so don’t be surprised if cancellation policies aren’t particularly guest friendly.

Airbnb hosts set their own cancellation policies for any stay under 28 days. This means that hosts can choose how much of a refund you receive depending on when you choose to cancel. Most hosts are willing to offer partial refunds, but if you’re cancelling shortly before a stay was due to start then don’t be surprised if the host’s terms specify you’re not eligible for a refund.

For any stay over 28 days, you’ll need to get host approval for any refund if you’re cancelling less than a month before your stay (if you’re more than 30 days away you can cancel for free). Hosts may be within their rights to refuse you a full refund, so make sure to do your research before agreeing on a deal.

If you need to shorten a trip and end your Airbnb stay early you’re also unlikely to receive any form of refund (unless you’ve had a ‘travel issue’ like the ones listed above) as the host is unlikely to find a new occupant for the period you’ve booked with such short notice, so try to avoid overbooking accommodation where possible if you’re not 100% sure you’ll need it.

What insurances are available to Airbnb guests?

If you're looking for more effective protection when booking an Airbnb then you'll want to consider a proper travel insurance policy.

Buying travel insurance can help protect you against many of the issues that Airbnb's own protections/guarantees won't. While each policy is different, here are a few of the ways a travel insurance policy might help protect you when booking an Airbnb stay:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: These will cover you if your trip is cancelled or cut short due to reasons out of your control, such as illness/injury, weather issues or work-related changes/interruptions (if you're travelling for business).
  • Medical expenses: If you become unwell or injured as a result of your trip, this can help reimburse you for any costs you incur.
  • Lost/damaged baggage: As the name suggests, protects you if your baggage is stolen, lost or accidentally damaged while you travel.
  • Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR): Undoubtedly the best benefit for anybody who isn't 100% sure they'll need to make a trip, can reimburse you partially/fully if you need to cancel your trip. Can include flights and accommodation costs.

Airbnb extenuating circumstances

There are a few things out of the control of guests, hosts and Airbnb that should result in you being eligible for a refund. Airbnb refers to it as the ‘extenuating circumstances policy’ and it covers events that may occur that would make it impossible for someone to travel to their booked accommodation.

Changes to government travel requirements: Unanticipated changes to government rules/regulations on international travel. Doesn’t include lost/expired passports, visas or travel documents.

Emergencies/epidemics: Government-declared public health emergencies (e.g. COVID-19). Doesn’t cover endemic issues associated with a region, such as malaria in Thailand.

Government travel restrictions: Restrictions on travel from the government preventing/prohibiting travel to the listing location. Doesn’t include non-binding advisories or government recommendations/guidance.

Hostilities: Includes issues such as war, invasion, terrorism, explosions and civil disorder/unrest.

Natural disasters: Includes issues such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and large scale outages of essential utilities (water, electricity, etc.) Doesn’t include ‘foreseeable conditions in locations, for example hurricanes in Florida.

Luke Masters

Luke is a freelance research associate. Prior to NimbleFins, he worked at FreshMinds, Investigo and BMW. His work in data analytics, pricing, strategy and business development now help him write business insurance content to support SMEs. Read more on LinkedIn.

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