Thursday, September 15, 2016

Home Sharing – The Insurance Gaps

The 2 leading home sharing apps today cover over 3 million rental listings in almost 200 countries. This is a far larger number of rooms than even the largest of hotel chains has. The growth is projected to increase over the coming years. While the homeowners benefit from the income, many of them do not think about the insurance, tax and regulatory issues involved in engaging in this kind of commercial activity. Insurance is the trickiest of these.

Homeowners Insurance Is Not Enough

In general, home insurance offers a fairly broad coverage. However, when a part of the home is being rented out to generate income, it becomes a commercial activity and this may not be covered by the policy. When a business operates from a home, the insurance company can refuse to accept a claim and may also suspend liability and property coverage either at the time of renewal or even during the policy period itself.

If that happens, there will be no protection if a guest steals from the home. Even worse, there will be no coverage if the guest causes major damage to the property or if the guest is injured while staying in the home. The homeowner will be unprotected.

There Is Coverage Available

A Landlord Policy is one option. But that is really meant for those who rent out the complete premises full time and do not themselves live there. The scope of the coverage and the cost makes this an unattractive option for those who share their homes.

Insurers are aware of the need for new types of coverage to serve the growing home sharing market. That is why many of the major insurance companies are developing policies and / or endorsements that are aimed specifically for those involved in the home sharing business. The coverage includes issues such as:
  • Expenses related to furniture damage or theft by a guest
  • Other structures on the premises like a converted garage apartment
  • Theft of personal property
  • Damage to landscaping caused by a guest
  • Liability coverage for small watercraft like canoes, kayaks, jet skis etc.
  • Alcohol liability
  • Loss of business income – broken pipes or property damage that may make the premises un-rentable
  • And more
In some cases a home sharing insurance policy can replace a normal homeowner’s policy. The issues is such a serious one that one of the major home sharing apps requires that homeowners must have adequate insurance coverage before signing up.

If you are involved in home sharing or plan to do so, it is critical that you have insurance that will give you the protection you need. Contact your insurance broker to discuss the nature of your home sharing activities and the coverage options available to you. He will be able to guide you to the right type of coverage that is cost effective while also providing you with the protection you and your home need.

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