Airbnb advertises that hosts are covered up to $1,000,000 in the event that a guest does any damage to their property.
The blurb on the bottom of the Airbnb home page advertises it like this:
$1,000,000 Host Guarantee
Your peace of mind is priceless. So we don’t charge for it. Every eligible booking on Airbnb is covered by our Host Guarantee - at no additional cost to you.
Well, forget your peace of mind. It’s actually going to cost you a piece of your wallet. The reality is, you won’t see a dime unless your guest actually admits to being responsible for the damage!
We have two rooms that we rent out in our property. Someone is always coming and going in one or the other rooms. Recently, one guest left at 3:00 in the morning to catch an early flight. The other guest had two more days. The night before the first guest left, we were in the kitchen and didn’t see any damage to the microwave. But late the next morning we noticed a big black burn on the microwave door and also a tear in the plastic material on the inside of the microwave door. The first guests had already left, and it doesn’t seem likely that they would have heated anything that early in the morning before leaving. But we did see the remaining guests using the kitchen early that morning to make breakfast. They had also used the kitchen almost every day for breakfast and dinner. The previous guests, we never saw using the kitchen.
Anyway… our best guess was that the remaining guests were the ones who damaged it. But we had no proof. The kitchen isn’t under 24-hour video surveillance, and we don’t stand guard out there 24 hours a day! We didn’t see it happen, so all we could do is guess.
We went to file a damage report with Airbnb, only to find out that in order to file a report with them, you have to first select which guest you want to attribute the damage to! So I selected the guest we suspected and filled out the rest of the form. I then wrote to that guest through facebook telling them we didn’t know who did it, but they were the only ones there when we first noticed it (and it was the kind of thing you would notice immediately). I told them we weren’t trying to blame them for it or even get them to pay for it, but we had to do it that way in order to open a case with Airbnb.
It was also the kind of thing that anyone could accidentally do. They obviously put something in the microwave that had some metal in it and it exploded. I would hate for a guest to have to pay for something like that - an accidental mistake - and we didn’t want these guests to actually have to pay for it. It would have added $300 to their 4-day trip! We thought it was the perfect kind of thing for the Airbnb insurance to pay for.
But, Noooooo… NO WAY! We told Airbnb our best guess was that it was this particular guest, but we couldn’t be sure as we don’t have 24-hour a day guards posted in the kitchen! Airbnb promptly told us that if we didn’t know who it was, that there was not a thing in the world they could do.
But what if we had known for sure it was this guest, and then the guest denied it (as they surely would do because who wants an extra $300 tacked onto their vacation bill for an accidental mistake)? And how would Airbnb know who to believe?
Airbnb sent us an email that said:
"We were so sorry to hear of the incident that occurred at your property.
Please know that we have reviewed your submission very carefully.
However, we are unable to grant your request because as per our Terms of
*Service, compensation cannot be provided under the Host Guarantee *
unless the host is able to identify the responsible Guest."
"This requirement serves two purposes: first, when we find a guest
responsible for damages under the Host Guarantee, we reserve the right
to review his/her profile with contemplation of his/her removal from our
site. This is to increase the trust and safety of our community and to
ensure that no other host experiences difficulty with the guest in the
future. Consequently, we must verify that the damages are the result of a
particular guest’s actions. Secondly, Airbnb reserves the right to
subrogate against any person or entity whatsoever who allegedly is
responsible for causing the losses or damages in question. As a result,
the identity of the responsible party must be known as a precondition of
filing a Host Guarantee payment request form."
“Subrogate” means “to replace one person with another”. And in this case it means to replace Airbnb’s insurance as the payer with the guest as the payer. Meaning they’re going to make the guest pay instead of using their insurance. Makes you wonder if they really even have any insurance.
In other words, you have to have iron-clad proof that a particular guest did the damage. And then Airbnb isn’t going to use their insurance to pay it - they’re going to make the guest pay it.
But my question is, how in the world could you ever have proof - even if it was the only guest in your house at the time, when the guest would no doubt vehemently deny any responsibility. Are hosts supposed to put their property under 24-hour a day surveillance? I just don’t know how you could ever prove to Airbnb that any guest was responsible for anything - unless you have a video camera filming everything 24 hours a day.
The bottom line is - this “insurance” is absolutely worthless and I think a fraudulent claim on Airbnb’s part. They have structured it so that they will in no way ever have to pay anything. Hosts will only get paid if the guest happens to be willing to admit their mistake!
If your guest won’t admit to causing the damage, then you will never see a dime. Everything in your house or apartment is at risk… and YOU will ultimately be the responsible party. Only YOU will incur the expenses of any damage done to your place. And that’s exactly the way Airbnb has designed it… all the while making it so they can claim that they don’t charge anything for your “peace of mind” and you don’t have to worry about a thing because they have a $1 Million Host Guarantee.