Painful Airbnb mistakes Aussies make
AIRBNB has become such an easy, affordable, go-to option for holiday accommodation that many travellers have ditched traditional hotels altogether.
But when things go wrong, many Australians assume travel insurance will cover all aspects of their Airbnb rental in the same way as a hotel stay - but actually, it won't.
A new study by Comparetravelinsurance.com.au found more than half of Aussies were confused over where travel insurance stood with Airbnb and had a lot of things wrong.
And it's important to be across it because if you're not clear on your rights, you may be knocked back from an insurance claim.
"Many Airbnb stayers are completely in the dark regarding their travel insurance, which is understandable given the ever-changing climate of the share-economy," Comparetravelinsurance.com.au director Natalie Ball said.
"Travel insurance is not a catch-all solution to an Airbnb stay gone wrong.
"Before you hop on board the homesharing train make sure you understand the circumstances that you are and aren't covered for."
Here are the biggest misconceptions and incorrect assumptions that cause expensive problems for travellers when something goes wrong on their holiday.
THAT YOU'RE COVERED FOR ROBBERY
Travel insurance generally covers travellers struck by theft in their hotel room. But in some cases of Airbnb renting, they're not.
"It's important to know that unless you're renting out an entire property, you wouldn't always be covered for theft in an Airbnb," Ms Ball said.
"Specifically, if you are sharing your accommodation with others, who are not in your travel party, you would need to keep your belongings locked and secured in order for them to be covered."
The same goes for any type of shared residence, like a hostel dorm room or a share-house situation.
Even leaving your things with the hotel concierge after you check out puts you at risk - insurance may not cover you for that.
Travellers need proof of purchase when making a claim for items that have been lost or stolen, Ms Ball said.
"Not only is the onus on you to keep your property safe and secure at all times, but be prepared to provide some evidence of its value and ownership," she said.
"Without this insurers cannot reasonably reimburse you for your belongings."
THAT YOU'RE COVERED FOR LAST-MINUTE CANCELLATIONS
Cancellations by the property host is the number one complaint from Airbnb guests, Ms Ball said.
And while it is frustrating, expensive and sometimes a bit scary to be suddenly left without a place to stay, it can also be disappointing as far as travel insurance is concerned.
Simply, travel insurance doesn't cover the cost of a last-minute cancellation by an Airbnb host.
"There are steps you can take to avoid being out of pocket," Ms Ball said.
"Scope out some alternative hotels in advance and check whether they offer full refunds; it may be worth having a backup booking in case."
She also recommended doing research and checking reviews on Airbnb before taking the plunge with a booking.
"If a booking seems too good to be true or a host's response time is poor, use your better judgment and question whether you're prepared to take the risk," she said.
THAT YOU'RE COVERED IF YOU HAVE TO CANCEL
If the traveller has to ditch the Airbnb booking - as opposed to the host - the associated costs are not automatically covered by travel insurance.
Travellers would need a comprehensive policy and could only cancel for an unforeseen reason that was specifically covered.
"If circumstances force you to cancel, not your host, a comprehensive policy would generally refund your accommodation and travel costs," Ms Ball said.
"A last-minute illness or injury, the death of a close relative or a natural disaster would all fall under this benefit."
Ms Ball said regardless of where they were staying, travellers needed to make sure they were familiar with their insurance policies.
"Take the time to read through your insurance documents and ask any relevant questions - it's worthwhile no matter your destination," she said.
"Misapprehensions over your cover could set consumers up to fail. Before you make any upfront payments, do your homework so you can enjoy your adventure, anxiety free."