If you're part of the Airbnb or other home sharing community and renting your home for extra income, you're one of many. There are about 4 million hosts on Airbnb, many of them in the United States1. However, your home insurance or renters insurance policy may not protect you from damages.
What are the risks of home sharing?
When you home share, your property isn't licensed or regulated like a hotel or bed and breakfast. Hosting could potentially put you at risk if someone renting your home damages or even vandalizes it. As a host you're responsible for paying for repairs, including any made to common areas - like those in a condo building. And if a guest is injured while at your home, you could be responsible for their medical expenses.
How to protect yourself as a host
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover accidents at short-term rentals2. And, even if your homeowners or renters insurance includes coverage for home sharing or rentals, your insurance company still could deny your coverage.
That's because, once people pay you to stay there, your home becomes a business. Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically aren't intended to cover commercial use.
So, how can you be sure you're protected? While you could rent only to people who will use their own homeowners or renters insurance policies, that would likely reduce your pool of potential clients significantly. Instead, your best bet is to talk to your insurance company and tell them you're sharing your home. They may suggest you purchase a landlord policy that could cover the structure, the property inside (including your appliances and furnishings), lost rental income in case of damage, legal fees, and liability claims.
If you're staying as a guest in a shared property like an Airbnb, check with your homeowners or renters insurance to find out what protection you have if any damages occur.