Insurance 

The thing we hate to pay for but are sure glad we did when we need it. I’ve been a host for over 5 years now and when I started, can you believe it — Insurance didn’t even cross my mind as I was eagerly adding pics, drafting great vacation themed text and happily ‘clicked’ submit to post my listing.  The moment I clicked Submit > my listing went LIVE and I entered into this alternative, beautiful cha-ching universe as my phone started to blow up with booking requests. There was no going back.

I felt like I was well equipped. Hey, I was a marketer in another life. I had a great check- in guide, I filled out my listing and house rules comprehensively and I was doing relatively well for the first 4 years of my new entrepreneurial hosting career. That all came to an halt when Frank, a guest who rented my Austin home for the SXSW Conference, left behind an unexpected surprise!

Like other hosts I fell into the “It’s a Guarantee–Sure Thing” marketing lure that some of the booking platforms offered.  The word “Guarantee” hooked me and I was a naive do-gooder, so I didn’t have any reservations that something bad could happen until the time came to file my first claim.

When I took the booking with Frank, I immediately had a weird feeling about the reservation. But hey, it was a $3800 / 4 night booking so I figured what the heck, it’s going to pay for 3 months of my mortgage, whoohoo!!  I vividly remember walking into my home the day he checked out… As I opened the door and walked around, I thought, okayyy…all furniture and things were in place, no excessive trash…cool. Then I noticed ALL of the pillows on the sectional couch were oddly piled into the corner… I picked them up to spread them out and that’s when I noticed….DUN…DUN…DUN…Noooooo!!!! a wet stain, that wasn’t clear…and didn’t smell good. Good God! No!

My housekeeper and I took all the removable covers off and saw that the liquid went all the way through the sewn in fabric to the core of the couch frame.

I knew I had the “Guarantee”, so I immediately called the booking platform to ask them what to do. They stated I should try and work things out with the guest first, then file a claim after 72 hrs if the guest didn’t respond. So, I messaged Frank and said, “Hi, we have a slight problem…”  He apologized and asked what he could do to reimburse for the damages. After that, I reached an endless number of calls, emails, calls, emails for 14 days straight.

The fury of what I experienced was so painful I can’t bear to drag you guys through it. After many calls to customer service, representatives in other countries, and promises to escalate my claim, the booking platform notified me via email that they closed my case WITHOUT a resolution.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS:

  • Make sure to read the Terms & Conditions of EVERY Booking platform you advertise on BEFORE you start
  • Insurance is confusing
  • Trying to figure out what type of insurance you need for Short Term Rentals is even more confusing
  • You don’t want to be under-insured and you don’t want to pay extra to be over insured
  • If the booking platform is the “merchant of record,” you’ll never have any recourse to claim additional funds as they will control the money coming in and going out, e.g. deposits, refunds
  • If you want a few more tips, Click here

As a Host who cares about my home, my guest’s experience, has multiple properties AND a full time business…I don’t have the time to go through another booking platform claim nightmare, fingers crossed even hoping they will cover me when the unfortunate time arises when there is guest damages.

Our homes are personal, they are our investment nest eggs. Please take my experience in, do a little research and find the best insurance coverage to protect what you love. 

Happy Hosting,

Kate Yanov

Host since 2012

Founder | Property Protect

 

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