Airbnb hosts warned about insurance at a forum

Authors of the report The impact of Airbnb on WA’s Tourism Industry, Michael Volgger and Christof Pforr and were in Busselton on Friday at a forum about their research.
Authors of the report The impact of Airbnb on WA’s Tourism Industry, Michael Volgger and Christof Pforr and were in Busselton on Friday at a forum about their research.

An accommodation provider in Busselton has warned Airbnb hosts that their home insurance could become void if they lease their home as short stay accommodation.

The warning came up at a question and answer session during a forum on Friday were accommodation providers could hear directly from the researchers of the report, The impact of Airbnb on WA’s Tourism Industry.

Researchers Christof Pforr and Michael Volgger spoke to the forum about their findings from the report and the impact Airbnb was having on the South West tourism sector.

During the Q&A session the accommodation provider said once money was exchanged between a host and a guest “insurance contracts were blown out the window.”

The WA Small Business Commissioner David Eaton said homeowners were required to notify their insurer if there was any change in circumstances, such as a decision to offer their premises for short term rental.

Mr Eaton said failure to notify an insurer of a change in living conditions could be considered a breach of the contract and, as such, it may void the policy.

“Airbnb recently introduced an insurance policy for any loss due to theft or vandalism (in Australia, hosts are covered for damages of up to $1 million),” he said.

“However, not everything is covered under this guarantee (particularly cash and securities, vehicles, pets, personal liability and shared or common areas) and Airbnb recommends that hosts speak to qualified insurance agents to ensure they have appropriate cover.”

Mr Eaton said there were new insurance products in the Australian market that provide home and contents insurance for people renting out their properties for short-term stays.

He said some policies covered home-owners for theft, malicious damage, accidental damage and personal liability.  

“For anyone considering letting their home via Airbnb or any other leasing arrangement, it is important that they do due diligence and check with their insurance provider for details of what their insurance policy covers,” he said.

“In addition to insurance issues, local government approvals are in many cases compulsory and tax implications should also be considered. 

“In some circumstances, when you take into consideration increased insurance costs, tax implications and local council fees if applicable, it may not be financially advantageous to let your house, or parts of your house via a platform such as Airbnb.”

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