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Liability for Injury in an Airbnb

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Just about everyone loves traveling, but hotels can be expensive, particularly after paying for a flight to a destination. For this reason, staying at an Airbnb is extremely popular.

When someone chooses to stay at an Airbnb, they rent out a person’s home for a period of time, allowing them to stay in a nice place for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. But, it is important to know what happens if someone is hurt at an Airbnb.

Many assume they can sue Airbnb since the accommodations were made through them. But anyone staying at an Airbnb signs their terms of service – terms that clearly state a guest cannot sue Airbnb if they suffer injuries while staying on someone else’s property.

While these waivers exempting companies from liability can sometimes be successful, it is a difficult process. But Airbnb recently changed their stance on holding liability for injuries guests sustain. Currently, the company is willing to offer hosts up to $1 million in liability protection should a guest who suffered an injury on their property sue them. If injury expenses exceed that amount, the host, or owner of the property, would likely be responsible.

In Texas, guests paying to stay on someone’s property, regardless of whether it is a hotel or Airbnb, are business invitees. This classification makes the host responsible for the guest’s safety while on the property. This means people who rent out their homes as Airbnbs have the same responsibilities as a hotel.

When accidents occur, the host is often surprised to learn their homeowners’ insurance do not cover these injuries. Most of these insurance policies exclude any liability incurred as part of a business activity, which an Airbnb would certainly qualify as.

Those wishing to make some extra money by renting their home out through Airbnb should first ask their insurance company if they can provide coverage for injuries guests may suffer. And it is best to do this as far in advance as possible. Most insurance companies require advance written notice before providing coverage.

Those renting the home they plan to offer as an Airbnb will also likely be responsible for any injury expenses incurred. Like homeowners’ insurance, even if the renter has tenants’ insurance, it is unlikely the insurance company will provide coverage for business activities. And while the guest may consider suing the landlord, they probably would not be responsible for injuries. This is especially true if they did not know about the accommodation arrangement, or if the lease expressly restricted subletting or otherwise renting out the property.

Whether or not the host has an insurance policy may not seem of great concern to a guest staying on the property, but it should be. When a person sues a host for expenses, particularly those that exceed the $1 million mark provided by Airbnb, it is unlikely they will be able to provide full compensation. And that means the injured person could never see the compensation they may deserve.

Anytime a person is considering staying at an Airbnb, it is important to speak with the host first. Ask if they have insurance to cover the costs of any injuries should they occur.

While Texas has many beautiful properties available through Airbnb, there is more to consider than the beauty or convenience of the property.