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Hidden Dangers in Airbnb

In recent years, companies like Airbnb™ and Uber™ have risen to the top of the news and the market of on-demand service and hospitality. However, how these companies handle liability has recently been questioned by the media.  Understanding the specifics and risks of renting through Airbnb™ means you can make an informed decision should you find yourself in legal situation during your Airbnb stay.

Have you been injured while on someone else’s property? Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has an experienced team of Indianapolis premises liability attorneys who can help you explore your options.

The Basics

So you’ve recently decided that utilizing Airbnb for a trip is an excellent way to save some money. While it’s wonderful that there are flexible options out there, it’s important you know what risks are associated with your decisions. If and when something occurs out of your control at your host’s home, you’ll need to know what they are liable for.

In their “Host Insurance Summary”, hosts are responsible for personal injury. There's also fungi or bacteria, Chinese drywall, communicable diseases, product liability, pollution, asbestos, and lead or silica. This means that should you slip in their shower, or fall down their icy front steps, become ill from mold in your basement, or trip over a root in their backyard, they will have to cover your care.

Another important fact to understand is that Airbnb’s insurance only acts as secondary insurance. Essentially, they encourage hosts to push incidents through their own private renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. However, many private residence insurance policies contain a clause that removes the responsibility of coverage in the case that the insured is using their home for commercial purposes. In your case, this means you will have to rely on Airbnb’s insurance policy.

In the state of Indiana, laws were recently passed to better protect Airbnb guests and the community around them after the industry boomed in Hamilton County. According to the Indy Star, “owners cannot rent their rooms for 30 consecutive days or for more than 180 days a year. Owners also must purchase liability insurance to cover up to $1 million per incident for third-party claims of death, bodily injury or property damage.” In the case that an occurrence happens for an Airbnb guest in Indiana, it would be important to work with an experienced property liability and injury attorney soon after to collect necessary evidence.

Important Airbnb Insurance Details

Those of you who’ve regularly used Airbnb have likely had several different kinds of hosts. There are two extremes, however, those being the clingy, ever present host who obviously just wants to hang out, and then there’s the never present host, the one who leaves keys and leaves you alone. Well, here’s the thing to know as a guest. If your host isn’t present and an accident occurs due to something on the premises, in some states, like New York, you are not responsible. Technically, your host has broken the law.

Another fact to understand when you choose to stay at Airbnb is that they handle legal disputes through arbitration. This means it’s difficult to sue Airbnb. Essentially, when you agree to the terms and conditions of Airbnb you have already waived your opportunity to settle in a courtroom and instead you’ll be paid out privately without the chance to get your story heard.

As with many things, Airbnb has its risks and rewards. If you’ve used the service, you understand the perks of saving money and having a local experience. With Airbnb you’re right in the heart of wherever you’re visiting, having a more unique experience than staying a downtown Marriot might bring. In some scenarios, the host isn’t present at all, but might still have duties. These concerns don’t have to stop you from reaping rewards. Simply taking the time to read all Airbnb guidelines, as well as what qualifies as an incident under their insurance policies, means you’ll be better informed as you travel in style.

However, should you or a loved one experience injury on the premises of an Airbnb and think the host or property owner might be responsible, it’s worth at least sharing the story with a qualified expert and getting their opinion.

Have you been injured while on someone else’s property? Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has an experienced team of Indianapolis premises liability attorneys who can help you explore your options.