Last updated on May 24th, 2022
Airbnb promises a “home away from home” experience. Many travelers have come to prefer Airbnb over hotel stays for a wide range of reasons. Airbnb often offers the opportunity to stay in a neighborhood setting, giving guests more of a local experience. Every Airbnb unit is different, meaning travelers have more options, and the accommodations may have a less generic feel than a hotel room. And, of course, Airbnb rentals are often less expensive than a hotel room. But, what happens when something goes wrong?
There have been some high-profile incidents recently, including a mass shooting earlier this spring in Pittsburgh. But, most injuries happen in more routine ways, such as falls. Those accidents aren’t likely to make the news, but may still result in serious injuries and leave guests in need of compensation for medical expenses and other damages.
In Ohio, property owners are generally liable for injuries to visitors to their property if their negligence caused or significantly contributed to the injury. Airbnb hosts are no exception.
Some common examples include:
These are just a few examples. In Ohio, the property owner will be liable for injuries if:
If you’re injured at a friend’s home and the accident happened because the homeowner was negligent, their homeowners’ insurance will typically cover the injury. Depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of the injury, that may mean filing a claim and receiving a settlement from the insurance company, or it may mean fighting for fair compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, a business such as a hotel will typically have liability insurance to cover any damages a guest sustains due to the company’s negligence.
An Airbnb host often falls somewhere in the middle. That means an injury the host would be liable for may be covered by homeowners’ insurance, may be covered by the host’s business insurance, or may be covered by Airbnb’s Host Liability Insurance Program. In rare instances, none of these may apply, though the injured party might still be able to bring a direct claim against the property owner or a third party.
Airbnb hosts who are renting out a guest house on their property, an apartment over the garage, or their own vacation cabins may want to rely on their homeowners’ insurance to protect against liability. After all, if a neighbor tripped on a broken porch step on their property and broke an ankle, homeowners’ insurance would typically cover that.
So, why wouldn’t it be the same with an Airbnb guest who suffered a similar injury?
The answer depends on the terms of the homeowners’ insurance policy. But, many specifically exclude short-term rental-related claims, or even any claims arising from a business operating in the home. Others will cover this type of claim, but only if the host has specifically contracted for it and paid a higher premium to reflect the increased risk. These issues are very similar to those Uber drivers and other rideshare drivers have faced with regard to their automobile insurance.
And, homeowners’ insurance isn’t like automobile insurance, in that homeowners aren’t required by Ohio law to have minimum coverage–or to have any coverage at all.
Airbnb hosts also have the option of purchasing business liability insurance for their short-term rental business. This type of insurance typically provides the best coverage for injury to an Airbnb guest. However, as with homeowners’ insurance, business liability insurance isn’t required. And, if the Airbnb host chooses to purchase business liability insurance, they also choose the amount of coverage they’re purchasing. So, the amount of compensation available through business liability insurance may vary.
Airbnb offers up to $1 million in liability coverage for Airbnb hosts to cover claims not covered by the host’s own insurance. But, there are a number of restrictions. For example, coverage only applies while a rental is in progress. If someone is looking for accommodations for out-of-town guests and is injured while looking at an Airbnb unit, the injury won’t be covered, since it didn’t happen during an active rental period.
The company also excludes a wide range of other claims, including claims relating to certain environmental toxins, claims for injuries caused by intentional acts such as assault and battery, most watercraft-related injuries, and others. The policy terms are dozens of pages long, meaning that many Airbnb hosts likely don’t know themselves what type of incidents are and are not covered.
And, not all Airbnb bookings are treated equally. For example, bookings through Airbnb Travel LLC–Airbnb’s version of a travel agency–aren’t covered under the host liability policy. Airbnb hosted Experiences also aren’t covered, though there is some alternative coverage for hosts of Experiences.
The bottom line is that there are at least three different types of insurance coverage that may kick in when you’re injured at an Airbnb location. But, the type of insurance your host has purchased, the coverage limits, and policy terms and exclusions will determine whether your claim is covered and the amount of compensation available.
If you’ve been injured because your Airbnb host was negligent and there isn’t sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for your damages, you may be able to recover some damages directly from the property owner. The main obstacle in this situation is that many hosts will not have adequate assets for you to collect on a judgment against them.
If the Airbnb host was not negligent, or the host’s negligence was only partly responsible for your injury, you may be able to pursue a claim against a third party. For example, if a defectively-manufactured piece of furniture in the unit tips or collapses and causes an injury, the manufacturer of the defective item may be responsible–at least in part. Similarly, if a neighbor creates a hazard on the Airbnb property, the host may be partly responsible if they failed to identify the hazard and take action in a reasonable time. But, the neighbor who actively created the risk may also be liable.
Any premises liability claim can be complicated, but that’s especially true when there are multiple layers of possible coverage for your claim. If there are third parties who may share responsibility, or if you are partly to blame for your own injury, the case becomes even more complex. The best way to protect yourself after an Ohio Airbnb injury is to talk with an experienced local premises liability attorney as soon as possible.
At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, we’ve been helping injury victims secure fair compensation for more than 30 years. We have the knowledge and experience required to help you identify responsible parties and build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
To learn more about how we can help, call 937-222-2222 right now.
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