I can’t recommend insurance company but I have had the unfortunate experience of trying to make a claim through the Airbnb policy. It was horrendous and 9 months later is still not resolved. The difficulty is that Airbnb is not a UK company and therefore there is no one you can turn to such as The Financial Ombudsman as you could with an insurance company. I would strongly suggest that no one in the UK relies on this alone. My sorry story is below for anyone remotely interested but the upshot is - just don’t rely on Airbnb. Their much vaulted policy is completely inaccessible. We’ve now just moved both our properties away from Airbnb.
I’d never made a claim before this. The small things that got broken I simply replaced or guests did themselves until our property was taken over by 7 members of a county lines drug gang.
We had a booking last August for 2 people for a week. The 2 people turned out to be 7 people who we couldn’t remove without the help of police. Drugs were then found in the property. They took the keys and so we had to change the locks although that didn’t stop them attempting to get back in on 3 separate occasions.
The damage in the flat amounted to approximately £18,000 which included replacing a large velux window, wood flooring, all bed linen and even wallpaper. It took me 3 months to get it back into a state that meant I could rent it out again during which time I had to cancel bookings and prevent any others from booking in. So my claim was for cleaning, replacement locks, damages, lost bookings as well as a claim for additional guests and additional nights. It totalled just under £18,000. Airbnb to date have settled about £800! I was initially advised that the full amounts were not going to credited back to me because Airbnb have various caps in place. They stated there was a $500 cap on lock changing and cleaning and refused to outline what the others were. There is absolutely no mention of this anywhere in the Airbnb policy terms and conditions. I therefore queried this by phone, by email and by email to the address at the bottom of the policy. I asked what other caps were in place and on what? Each piece of correspondence was ignored. Eventually an Airbnb staffer admitted that the caps referred to in the original emails previously sent to me were incorrect and that no such cap exists. She was unable to tell me why this had been imposed in the first place.
Then there was an issue with materials requested for the claim. Because of the sheer amount of material required (video/photographic and documents) and the deadline within which Airbnb require this, it was agreed that I would share a dropbox folder with the claims person. She said that timing was imperative and she woudl rather have the information piecemeal as and when I got it ,as opposed to all at once at the end. So that’s what I did. I put in all the doorbell video evidence of additional guests, video of the state of the flat and photographs together with crime reference material from the police. I then gradually added receipts, invoices and repair/replacement quotes. Parts of London got flooded in August so getting carpet replacement quotes etc was incredibly slow but it all eventually went in by their deadline.
But sadly, the Airbnb claims person I was dealing with disappeared. I got no answers to emails. Eventually it was taken up by someone else (Emma) who tried to say that I hadn’t send in anything in the time required therefore there was no claim! After I forwarded her all the previous emails with dropbox link details with her previous colleague, I was finally able to make her understand that all she had to do was click the link and she’d be able to access the dropbox folder. She did so but then came back with an offer of approximately £3000 claiming that she didn’t have the evidence for some of the claim. Once again more emails went backwards and forwards.
The terms and agreement make it clear that airbnb may want someone to assess the damage before it is repaired so I kept asking her whether this was going to be the case and if so when as I needed to plan repairs. She simply ignored this. I kept requesting a phone call as her email replies would answer one of my questions but ignore others. We finally spoke after about 2 months of emails going backwards and forwards. She agreed to extend the deadline given for material given that as I pointed out, she herself had overstepped it, so that I could get her the information she said she needed. All of this was dropped into the same dropbox folder by her new deadline but she disappeared. She just stopped answering emails. You can’t ever ring and speak to anyone in the claims department. You have to leave a message and hope that they’ll call you. I repeatedly got “someone will call you back”. No one did.
This all took place in August last year. Since then, one of the gang members has tried to get back into the house 3 times. He’d left his Sony playstation behind and wanted to come back and get it 4 months later! I had begged Airbnb to take charge of the property given that they had banned the guest from airbnb so there was no way of communicating with them. Airbnb refused telling me to give it to the police. The Police took the drugs but said their policy is not to take other possessions. I eventually gave it to a charity shop. But the gang member wouldnt accept this and accosted one of my guests. Airbnb were amazing with the guest and refunded their entire £3000 fee for staying. Police have now finally dealt with the gang member so cross fingers that the last we’ll see of the gang.
I finally got someone else at Airbnb to look into the unresolved claim about 2 weeks ago after months of emailing. She came back and said that evidence had not been supplied. It was like flipping Ground hog day! On checking the dropbox folder, it turns out that no one from Airbnb had accessed it since Emma had originally opened it back in October last year! She then offered a phone call to which I agreed enthusiastically with numerous dates and times to schedule this. I got radio silence. I then heard back from her again this morning 3 weeks after original telephone call offer, apologising for the delay and offering another phone call. Once again I have gone back giving her times and dates I could make myself available. I have no idea whether Airbnb will finally make good on this but the sheer amount of time that I’ve had to spend chasing this has been outside all of their own time guidelines and is unbelievably frustrating.
I also submitted a UK access information request. This too has been ignored even though by law they are bound to to comply with this.
But the problem I believe we have here in the UK is that Airbnb is not a UK company and therefore can’t be governed by the Financial Ombudsman. I’m now struggling to understand exactly what I can do about this or how I can recoup some of the losses I’ve incurred through damages, lost bookings, additional guests and time. Small Claims court? But that has a £10k cap.
So I’m afraid my experience of Airbnb’s much publicised host protection policies is that they are simply words and sometimes not even that!!! I would heartily recommend that anyone in the UK avoids Airbnb entirely and find a good agent to mange it. I end up earning more than I used to managing it myself and I have the security of a proper insurance package which I know can be monitored by the Financial Ombudsman.
Do not rely on Airbnb’s policy. It’s hollow. It is simply not accessible and there is no one you can actually talk to when difficulties such as mine arise. When you do speak to someone, its so obvious they have a script from which they can not deviate. The most they can say is “someone will call you back” and then you’re back in that old loop.
I’ve never come across with such deliberate company policy of obfuscation. It is worthy of a good Guardian story… oh hang on… they’ve already done one on precisely this!