Across Canada, millions of property owners may now be considering getting in on the fad of renting to temporary visitors through services such as Airbnb. However, this decision brings with it many insurance risks which may not be included in the standard coverage provided by the room-sharing companies with which they choose to partner. For instance, one recent incident in Gatineau, Quebec, highlighted the risk that allowing strangers into a home may bring with it.
Students from Toronto rented one businessman’s property for a weekend in late February specifically to throw a party on Saturday night, according to a report from the CBC. In all, about 25 people showed up. However, something went terribly wrong at the party that left one guest shot and another at large after fleeing on foot at around 3 a.m.
The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, and the extent of the injuries suffered by the 26-year-old victim was not made public, the report said. However, the injuries required surgery, and fortunately the victim is no longer in danger of dying. No other information about the victim’s identity or condition has been released.
Meanwhile, police say that the victim was not actually intended to have been shot in the incident, according to a separate report on the shooting from CTV. They added the shooting was not premeditated, but rather a “spontaneous act.”
However, despite the incident, property owner Jocelyn Filiatrault, who has been renting his home on Airbnb for a few months at this point, does not believe there was cause to file a formal complaint with the company despite what happened there, the first report said. Instead, he simply told the CBC, “I’ll be a little more careful, that’s all.”
Learning a lesson
Being careful about who is being allowed to rent a property through Airbnb is certainly one thing that property owners will have to do, because allowing strangers into one’s home always poses an inherent risk that something could go wrong. Moreover, things can simply go wrong in a home during a rental that is outside the control of anyone in particular. Pipes burst, things break, and so on. While many of these issues are likely to be covered by the rental company’s standard insurance coverage, others may not, and owners who find themselves in something of a coverage gap may also find that dealing with these issues can get expensive in a hurry.
As such, it’s important for owners to closely review the insurance policies they receive from companies like Airbnb, and compare that with their standard home insurance to make sure they’re going to be fully and reliably covered no matter what happens on their property. By doing so, owners may be able to significantly reduce the financial risk that deciding to rent in this way can carry.
“This speaks to the importance of disclosure when applying for insurance and also to the broker’s need to thoroughly review all questions on the application with their client not only when first placing the coverage but on renewal as well,” states Karen Roller, Underwriting Director at APRIL Canada. “As most residential policies automatically renew, there is a tendency to assume nothing has changed, or leave the onus on the client to report changes. Unfortunately homeowners don’t necessarily foresee how what seems incidental to them, could be a significant change to their insurance and possibly even result in decline of coverage.”