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Dec 19 2012

Get Extra Cash By Renting Out A Room But Are You Covered?

room rental, accommodation, insurance

The idea of renting out a room to bring in some extra cash for travelling is really appealing and something that I am considering at the moment.  How exactly I do that is up for debate at the moment because there are a few options:

  • rent a room to a language student,
  • get a long-term lodger, or
  • rent a room on a short-term basis through a website such as Airbnb.

 

There are pros and cons with all these options.  I have experience of the first two options but not the last one.  It’s a new concept to me and one I am seriously thinking of trying since I used Airbnb while I was travelling recently.  It seems so simple: you register your details, someone books to stay and you get paid for it – perfect!  I really wanted to try this option as a way of getting extra income and meeting some interesting people.  What appeals is the fact that it’s temporary, it won’t cost me anything and I can rent a room out at my convenience.  As I started looking into it, I noticed that Airbnb have what they call a ‘Host Guarantee’, which they clearly state is not insurance  and, in their own words,

… should not be considered as a replacement or stand-in for homeowners or renters insurance…  We strongly encourage all hosts to review and understand the terms of their insurance policy and what it covers and does not cover. Not all insurance plans will cover damage or loss to property caused by a guest that rents your space.

That got me thinking about my own home insurance policy.  By that I mean Buildings rather than Contents Insurance.  Whenever I have foreign students to stay, I always inform my insurance company in advance because they add a clause to my Buildings Insurance policy.  If I didn’t do that and something happened, my insurance policy would be null and void due to non-disclosure.  So, in the same vein, I contacted my insurance company.  I thought they would do the same as before and add a clause in the policy, which the host guarantee provided by Airbnb or similar company would cover.  The person I spoke to hadn’t heard of this type of accommodation rental so he had to look into it and get back to me, which he did.  To my surprise, renting a room via Airbnb or a similar company would invalidate my home insurance policy.  That was a bit of a shocker for me because I honestly didn’t think it would be a problem.  So, that leaves me with three options:

  • Take the risk
  • Find another insurer
  • Don’t do it

 

I know it is unlikely that anything will happen but there is a chance and that is why people buy insurance policies; just in case.  For me, this is a risk I am just not willing to take.  I could search for another insurer but when I have searched for other insurance providers in the recent past, they haven’t been as flexible as my current provider.  So, for the time being, until I can be assured that I will not be invalidating my insurance policy, I will not be renting out a room through Airbnb or similar companies.

I did actually send Airbnb a message but, as yet, haven’t had a reply.  Wimdu did respond with this…

Unfortunately, we have had no similar inquiries from other hosts. Although Wimdu does provide some host insurance, we do not however advise you to do something which would invalidate your insurance plan.

Surely, I can’t be only one, can I?  I have written this post to open up the debate and to find out what the experience is of people who are hosting guests through Airbnb, Wimdu and similar companies.  If you are a host:

  • Did you check whether it would invalidate your home insurance cover?
  • Did you have to change your insurance provider?
  • If you are in the UK, I would love to know which insurance companies will provide cover.

 

** I would like to thank Wimdu for responding to my email and look forward to using them in the future.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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