Understand the Risks of Home-Sharing - NBC4 Washington
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Understand the Risks of Home-Sharing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Understand the Risks of Home-Sharing

    Home-sharing or renting out your home is a good way to make extra money, and it's popular in this market, but there are risks the homeowner takes. Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan explains. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016)

    Home-sharing or renting out your home is a good way to make extra money, and it's popular in this market, but there are risks the homeowner takes.

    Before you decide to rent your home or even a room, make sure you are financially protected. The Information Insurance Institute advises you check your homeowners insurance. Let the insurance agent know what you intend to do and ask what is covered and what is not. Renting out your home could change an agreement you have with your current homeowners policy.

    In addition to checking in with your homeowners insurance, ask what the home-sharing company offers for protection.

    For example, Airbnb said at no cost to the host, all hosts are protected with a $1 million host guarantee. Airbnb said it will reimburse eligible hosts for damages up to that amount, but the protection does not take the place of homeowners or renters insurance, and it does not include personal liability.

    Airbnb also includes host protection coverage, insurance that provides primary liability coverage in the event of injury or property damage. 

    Without liability insurance protection from a home-sharing company, your homeowners or renters insurance policy could leave you with no coverage.

     

     

    Airbnb offers the following booking and travel safety tips for guests:

    Before you book

    Share your story in the bio section of your profile, and get a Verified ID. Hosts prefer to know who's asking to stay with them, and as a result you may have a better chance of your requests being accepted.

    Airbnb has a diversity of listings, from shared rooms to entire homes. Make sure the space, house rules, and hosting style match your needs.

    Spend some time reviewing your host's listing to make sure the place is a good match for you.

    Get a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the listing by reading reviews from other travelers.

    Feel free to contact a host with any questions you have about a listing.

    On your trip

    Honor your commitments (including arrival time) and any house rules.

    Enjoy your host's home as if you were staying with friends. Be respectful of your neighbors.

    Explore the neighborhood and support local businesses. It's a great way to feel more like a local. Try asking your host about their favorite neighborhood spots!

    Get your host's permission before having guests over.

    When in doubt, reach out to your host with any questions or problems that arise.

    After your trip

    Always leave an honest review for your host to help guide future guests. Airbnb is built on community, and your host will also be invited to leave a review for you.

    Read carefully

    Look at the profiles and reviews of potential hosts before you book, and check for verified phone numbers, connected social networks, and references. If you'd like to see more, you can always ask them to complete profile verifications before booking with them, or look for hosts who already have a strong reputation on Airbnb.

    It's also a good idea to read everything the host has posted about their listing in the description, the amenities, and the house rules so there won’t be any surprises. Make sure you understand the host's cancellation policy before submitting a reservation request, too.

    Pay and communicate on Airbnb

    Paying or communicating outside Airbnb makes it harder for us to protect your information and puts you at greater risk of fraud and other security issues. That's why we prohibit paying for a reservation outside our website in our Terms of Service and strongly encourage you to communicate using our messaging system.

    Use our messaging system before a booking to confirm details about specific amenities, ask whether other people share the same space, discuss house rules, and talk about the neighborhood. After booking, use it to discuss check-in details.

    Set clear expectations

    After learning more about your host’s Airbnb history, start a conversation with them about your plans and what you can expect. Your host will likely know all the great (and not so great) spots. Trust your intuition: if you don’t feel right about a reservation, don’t book it! If a message makes you feel uncomfortable or you need help during your reservation, let us know.

    Prepare for the unexpected

    Research the neighborhood where you’ll be staying, familiarize yourself with major roads and landmarks, and have a plan for where you’d go in an emergency. If you’re covering long distances in your travels, make sure to tell your friends and family where you’ll be.

    For any trip, think about signing up for traveler's insurance. Airbnb doesn't offer traveler’s insurance for guests, but traveler's insurance is a relatively affordable option that can protect you in case of an injury or emergency on a trip. Some policies even cover lost baggage and travel delays. Check with your local insurance provider for details on your options.

    Before booking international travel or traveling internationally, also be sure to consult the relevant agencies in your government (for example the State Department for US citizens) for any travel warnings or travel advisories that may apply to countries or regions included in your travel plans.

    Be a considerate guest

    Whether you're still looking for the perfect listing or are already on your way, being a considerate guest matters.