UK Host's property insurance

Advice would be appreciated. Our Airbnb property is an annexe to our dwellinghouse, and we have let it out successfully for the last year. Just before our first guests arrived, I checked with our insurer and found out, to my horror, that there was NO cover for injury to third parties available on our policy (for bothe properties), as the annexe was holiday let.
On investigation, It transpired that separate top-up cover for this risk, as a stand-alone policy, was not available in the UK, which strikes me as weird.

I therefore had to arraneg separate Landlord’s cover for the Annexe, covering property and landlord’s contents, PLUS the vital third party cover for £2million. (Obviously, if anyone fell downstairs and hurt themselves, it was bound to be our responsibility!)

The cover wasn’t great, with some daft conditions - we are meant to keep a log of every time we go in the property (pretty well every day, given that it’s attached to us), the heating has to be run at 15degrees centigrade in winter, which is ridiculously high, and there is no cover for malicious damage caused by a tenant. (If they burn it down accidentally, that’s OK, apparently!)

So, my query for UK hosts is - what arrangements do you make for household insurance cover, and through which brokers?

All advice gratefully received.

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By the way, I do appreciate that Airbnb does offer some cover, ($1m) for hosts’ liability, but that seems insufficient to me. Normal commercial enterprises would have at least £2m cover, and many nowadays seem to have £5M.

As a supplemental question, does anyone have any experience of trying to make a claim under either Host’s liability, or Damage caused by Guests liability, through the Airbnb policy?

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Sorry, I can’t offer help on insurance in your part of the world, but I had to laugh at “15 degrees centigrade, which is ridiculously high”. Only Brits would consider that to be high :wink:- it’s a ridiculously low indoor winter temperature to most people, I’d guess.
21/22 is considered to be average comfortable temperature for humans.

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Ah! I didn’t make it clear , sorry - when occupied, the heating is on at higher temps than that; whatever the occupants find comfy.
No, this was for when the annexe is unoccupied, to avoid frost damage, which can only occur at below freezing - so only if it were extremely cold outside would a well-insulated modern house risk burst pipes.
In my opinion, a 15 degree safety margin is way higher than appropriate for an unoccupied property, and unjustifiable these days.

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Have you checked Proper insurance? They may not be in the UK but they are underwritten by Loyds of London so maybe. They are the only insurance company in Massachusetts that will cover my property and I live on the first floor and Airbnb the 2nd floor. My regular home owner’s insurance would normally be around $1,200 a year but Proper is $3000.

I would never trust Airbnb with anything promised in regards to insurance.

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Towergate Insurance and Intasure both do STR cover in the UK, with public liability cover up to £2m.

Both easy to find with a quick web search.

JF

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Ah, thanks for the clarification. You are right in that it seems a rather ridiculous rule for a place to have to be heated beyond a temp where there could be frozen pipe damage if it’s unoccupied.

But I have read a lot of posts from hosts in the UK who think it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to turn the heat off completely overnight and/or during certain periods of the day, when they have guests in residence.

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You need home insurance for short term lets (not landlord insurance ) and liability insurance .

There are about 10-12 insurance companies that offer this in the UK. Either contact an insurance broker . Or just use Google.

As well as the ones John mentions Admiral and Aviva offer this.

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Our humidity here is about the same as Edinburgh, which is at the same latitude, with the same kind of slushy winters (I’ve been there in March). We keep our houses and storage areas at a minimum of 55degF (12.8degC) to avoid problems with mold and mildew, and at that temp we’re also running dehumidifiers.

I suspect that the insurance company is requiring the higher temp to avoid claims for fungus, mold, and mildew damage to the building, as well as to avoid medical claims from guests exposed to mold spores.

I’m highly allergic to mold spores after a horrible nasal infection, and if I smell any mold when I check in I’m not staying. I’ve only had it happen once, and the hosts were there in 2 minutes offering me a beer on their deck while I waited for them to demold the cottage without using any scented products because I’m also allergic to floral scents (Opened windows, turned on fans, removed and replaced small area rug, mopped, wiped).

Why I rent from on-premises hosts whenever possible: so that they’ll have a chance to fix a problem before I have to call Customer Disservice. They hadn’t rented it for a while, and did several nice things during my stay to make amends, so they got 5 stars.

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Many thanks to everyone who replied with suggestions - much appreciated. I spent a happy morning today on this, and ended up with cover through a broker called Peacock Insurance Services, with Spectrum Abacus insurers. Because the apartment is an annexe of our main dwellinghouse, they accepted that we don’t need to keep a written log of when we ‘visit’ it, as they accept we are ‘in occupation’. Excesses were lower, and conditions were less complex - and cover for £2m was included, all at a very similar price. So that’s sorted for another year.

Thinking back to last year, what really upset me with LV=, our previous insurer for both our house and annexe, was that I had to query specifically whether we had public liability insurance on our policy, and their representative on the phone didn’t know - he thought so. After all, our main house policy had such a provision.
He returned after consulting ‘higher-ups’ to say that, no - cover for public liability was NOT included if we did holiday letting!

How many hosts realise that specialist cover is required, and that their house policy won’t necessarily cover them, if a claim arises? It was certainly a shock to me!

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Airbnb says on their site that hosts should get insurance plus any licenses and permits required by their local authorities. In my area, you can’t get the licenses and permits without proper STR insurance.

It reads:

We strongly encourage all Hosts to review and understand the terms of their insurance policy coverage. Not all insurance plans will cover damage or loss of property caused by a guest who books your accommodation.

And:

Review your homeowner’s or renter’s policy with your insurance agent or carrier to make sure your listing has adequate liability coverage and property protection

Many hosts would disagree. :slight_smile:

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Yes, I’m sure it’ll be there in Airbnb’s copious small print!

The staggering thing to us was that even our own, highly reputable insurance company (LV= is one of the biggest in UK), didn’t understand their own rules, and didn’t know public liability wasn’t covered on their standard policy, IF you started holiday letting.

It was only when I specifically asked them to check, that they came back with the answer that it WASN’T covered, and I could find nothing in the policy document. Scary!

Here in Spain, we use Linea Directa, which is “Direct Line” in the UK.

They have an insurance specifically tailored for STRs because it’s the law here. You have to have it or else you can’t let to tourists.

In addition to the basic liability insurance, we also have coverage fire, theft, flood, and damage caused by guests. It’s about 300€ per year.

And no, Airbnb has no insurance programme. They have something they call “airCover” which is not a guarantee nor insurance of any kind. It’s entirely discretionary. There’s no contractual or legal obligation to provide any kind of coverage through “airCover”. Read the fine print.

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We use Ibex, based in Gibraltar, who charge around €600 to insure our complete building in Andalucía. It’s circa 500m2 and has two tourist apartments plus our own. Worth getting a quote as they also include €2m public liability. The STR element is in the region of €180 per apartment.

It actually is an insurance policy. Up until last year, Airbnb essentially self insured in respect of public liability cover for hosts. In November they transferred the liability to third party insurers, Zurich Insurance from the UK and Generali SPA of Italy.

JF

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I believe the “insurance” you refer to is liability insurance, which we’re already required to have as part of our tourist licensing. And it needs to be a verifiable insurance, which we can produce actual paperwork that proves coverage. AirCover cannot produce that proof.

Secondly, in terms of damage coverage, in practice, it is solely at the discretion of Airbnb to accept or decline any claims. This may explain the common occurrence of claims being denied despite irrefutable evidence AND the guest even admitting it.

In our case, we’ve never had a claim accepted, and thusly now refuse to even bother with it, as it carries other subsequent risks, such as fabricated retaliatory reviews, which again, subsequently can result in suspension or even delisting of hosts, regardless of their pristine history or whether the guest offers any evidence of their claims. And Airbnb has no obligation to explain their decisions. And often refuses to do so.

Bottom line: it’s just too risky to involve Airbnb in anything other than bookings and payments. The only way to minimise the occurrence of bad/damaging/scam guests is by extensive screening, which for all practical purposes, falls entirely on the host. And you may need to circumvent Airbnb obstacles in order to effectively screen guests.

For example, you’re not supposed to decline or impose additional costs on the basis of age or gender - e.g., a group of eight 20 year old males with no history or profile is statistically and irrefutably an extreme high risk guest profile, which any insurer would certainly legally discriminate from a family in their 30’s. But on Airbnb, hosts can be penalised (possibly severely) for engaging in that very same discrimination. You need to tiptoe around this.

So, get your own insurance and keep Airbnb out of it as much as possible. An insurer at least will investigate the claim. It’s their legal obligation.

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Glad you’ve got it sorted, I spent some time dealing with a similar issue a while back. My situation varies slightly as I host the spare room in my house. I’m with Intelligent Insurance. Costs appox £320 a year. It also covers all the usual things a home owners policy would but doesn’t include contents insurance. Apparently the price would be the same even if the space was in an annexe - as long as it’s part of the same address that I live in. How much did you pay?

You’re obviously right about ‘standard price’ - £325 is our new premium!

And the previous year’s premium was £312, which the broker offered to renew at £317. The cover wasn’t as good, though, as they didn’t accept the annexe was part of our main house, hence the insistence on the ‘owner’s visit log’. At least both policies covered owner’s contents…

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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!

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I’m sorry you had this awful debacle, but you are quite mistaken if you think US hosts have an easier time getting Airbnb to pay damage claims and can just go to some ombudsman.

What do you mean by this? How did you expect Airbnb to " take charge of the property"?

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Yes, well, this is what we and many other hosts fear. Especially now as Airbnb has again moved the goalpost closer to the guest. I expect the refund scams to come out of the woodwork now.

We have so far been successful by simply avoiding Airbnb involvement in any type of guest management task, aside from getting bookings and getting paid. We deal with it outside of Airbnb. Prevention before they book is key to that strategy.