What Happens if Someone is Injured at an Airbnb Property in New York?

Airbnb, founded in 2007, has become a go-to place for many people when they need to book overnight accommodations. The company has about 5.6 million active listings on its website and over 150 million people have reserved Airbnb properties for vacations or business travel. With offerings in over 220 countries, over one billion guests have stayed at Airbnbs.

As an increasingly popular choice for accommodations, there are naturally more instances where accidents occur on Airbnb premises. What happens when a vacation or business trip is derailed by an injury-causing incident? What does an Airbnb cover? Is the host liable? Before planning any trip, it’s wise to be aware of the legal principles governing these places.

Host Liability Insurance

Host liability insurance is a part of Aircover, which is Airbnb’s larger travel protection plan. This plan provides hosts with up to $1 million in coverage when a guest is injured, as well as if their belongings are damaged or stolen while they are staying at an Airbnb property.

Host Liability Insurance covers an individual under a few different circumstances:

  1. They are found to be legally responsible for a bodily injury that occurs to a guest
  2. There was damage or theft of property that belonged to the guest
  3. There was damage to common areas such as lobbies or nearby areas that was caused by a guest

Airbnb emphasizes that the host liability insurance will not cover damage or injury that results from an intentional act. Additionally, host liability insurance does not cover damage to personal property or Airbnb that is caused by a guest. This is because that type of damage falls under Airbnb’s Host Damage protection.

Host Damage Protection is also a part of Aircover, Airbnb’s larger travel protection plan. Host damage protection covers a few specific situations:

  1. Damage to the place or belongings that is caused by guests
  2. Unexpected cleaning costs due to guest conduct during their stay
  3. Any income lost after canceling a confirmed booking because of damage

Preparing for a Claim

A major part of the claims process is gathering evidence of the damage or injury with photos, videos, and medical reports and bills. Additionally, within 14 days of the guest checking out of the Airbnb, an Aircover request or intake form should be filed. Airbnb Support will get involved if there are any issues with payment or if there is no response to the Aircover form. Additionally, in order for Air Support to get involved, it’s important to submit whatever evidence you have within 30 days.

What Are the Standards for Legal Liability Regarding Airbnb Incidents?

Airbnb itself, as well as the individual homeowners, have a high legal responsibility to care for the property, provide a safe environment for guests, and prevent any accidents. Premises liability laws in New York ensure that property owners must maintain a standard of care so that there are no harmful or potentially dangerous conditions that could cause injury. Similarly, Airbnb has a duty to provide safe conditions and correct any known risks that exist on the property. When and if a guest is hurt at the Airbnb location, a host may be held accountable for any dangers they should have been aware of.

What Steps Should You Take if Injured at An Airbnb?

First and foremost, seek medical attention immediately. Getting care and treatment for your injury is important. It’s best to have documentation that will link the time of the accident with your stay at the Airbnb.

Secondly, take pictures or video of the accident scene as soon as you can. This may be the only chance to accurately document the circumstances of the accident and the condition of the Airbnb that caused the injury. It’s important to also note that slip and fall accidents occur while on vacation. Perhaps a pool area or wet surface in a common hotel area led to a fall, but has since dried up. Protruding objects, debris, defective furniture, and uneven floors can all create a dangerous environment. If this isn’t photographed during the stay or immediately after an injury, those hazards might be corrected soon after thereby destroying the evidence.

Lastly, seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney so that they can review all of the documentation and begin to build a viable claim. Also, the statute of limitations to fill a premises liability suit is typically three years so if you continue to face expenses after the accident, it may not be too late to bring a suit. But the longer a guest waits to recover any damages, the harder it can be to prove negligence and win a case.

Would Homeowners Insurance Cover an Accident at an Airbnb?

Traditional homeowners’ insurance policies may not cover Airbnb accidents because Airbnb itself is a commercial use of the property. Because individuals are making a profit off of their home or apartment, the insurance company of a host may not cover any liability that comes from that business endeavor. Sometimes, an insurance company may require the host to get a business insurance policy to cover an Airbnb premises liability claim. But whether hosts purchase business insurance may depend on how frequently they rent out their property each year.

If no such business insurance exists and the homeowner’s policy excludes commercial applications of property from insurance coverage, the $1,000,000 provided through Aircover is the extent of coverage. While this might seem like enough money, it won’t be if there are extended periods of lost wages, steep medical and rehabilitation costs, long-term care needs, or major life adjustments caused by an accident at an Airbnb.

What Happens if $1 Million is Not Enough?

Depending on the injury and damage, costs can add up quickly. If injuries surpass $1 million dollars, legal representation will be needed to assist in determining whether reckless and negligent behavior caused the accident. An attorney will gather all the facts and work to recover just compensation.

At Rosenblum Law, we know that when people plan for vacations, premises liability and coverage are not on their minds. In the event of any injury, it’s always helpful when clients reach out to us as soon as possible. This affords us an opportunity to review all documentation and prepare the best case for compensation without delay.

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