Airbnb, the home-sharing service for people seeking commercial lodging, now boasts millions of listings worldwide. With that expansion has come questions of who is responsible in the event of an injury. Although the law is fairly established with respect to traditional lodging providers, such as hotels, the rules are still developing for Airbnb.
One contributing factor to Airbnb injuries is the fact that private residences are not held to the same standards as commercial locations. While a hotel will take extra steps to avoid liability, private homeowners typically do not. So, for instance, an Airbnb with a swimming pool almost certainly will not have a lifeguard on duty or other safeguards to prevent drowning. By staying on private property, your risk of personal injury will be higher.
If you do get hurt, you may assume that the homeowner's insurance policy will cover you. However, this will likely not be the case. That's because most insurance policies exclude coverage for business activities. Some insurance companies have even threatened to cancel policies on residences used for such activities as Airbnb. Because hosts are using their homes for profit, they run the risk of having their policies canceled or claims denied. In the event of an injury, this could mean you will be the one fighting for compensation.
Although the terms of service preclude you from suing Airbnb for injury, the company has started to offer secondary liability insurance for its hosts. You will likely still need to file through the host's insurance policy, which may result in cancellation of the primary policy. The secondary coverage may not be sufficient to cover your injuries and medical costs, but it's a start.
One important step to take before deciding to room at an Airbnb is to check with any applicable rules or laws in the host city. The municipality in which you will be staying may require the host to provide some sort of accident coverage for injured guests.
You should also try to find out more about the host residence, especially if you have children. You can read reviews of residences on Airbnb's website. Also, try to inspect the property for yourself before booking, if possible. You can also look into traveler's insurance to see if accidents and personal injuries can be covered. Finally, while Airbnb does not offer legal advice, you can contact the company or check online forums for any questions you may have.
Ultimately, if you do find yourself or a loved one injured while sating at an Airbnb, you may need to retain the services of a personal injury attorney. An attorney will work to determine who should be held liable for your injuries and fight to get the compensation you need and deserve.