Injured at a VRBO in New York State

For the last few decades, Vacation Rental By Owner has been popular among vacationers looking for lodgings. A website started as a way for David Clouse to rent out his vacation ski resort is now the way many people rent out their properties for cash. Today, vacationers have 2 million rental locations to choose from around the globe. 

Home-sharing companies have become more popular than hotels; this was especially true during the pandemic. While large hotel chains have insurance in case accidents injure guests, companies like VRBO have ambiguous insurance policies. What exactly happens if a guest is injured while staying at one of these properties? Who is responsible for costs associated with a guest’s injuries? It’s important to be aware of the insurance liabilities for the place you’re staying at. 

VRBO Liability Insurance

VRBO has put protections in place for its clients, since millions list their vacation homes on the site. There is a million-dollar liability insurance for homeowners to access through VRBO. All reservations processed through the company will have access to this liability insurance. 

Through this Generali Global Assistance policy, the coverage is per property and yearly. Many types of properties’ are covered under the liability policy, even including mobile homes, Airstream trailers, treehouses, and houseboats. However, the homes must be stationary and must function as a residential property. Both owner and property managers are eligible for VRBO coverage. 

The expenses covered under VRBO’s coverage are bodily injuries to a guest or damage to a third-party’s property. When a claim is brought, the million-dollar liability will be used to cover investigations and legal defense if needed and this VRBO coverage applies all around the world. 

For clients who already have their own insurance, the VRBO’s insurance will be a bonus for them and their renters. But although VRBO offers a substantial amount of insurance, there are limitations. These limitations to VRBO property owners include:

  • Contractual liability: If a person already has a contract that states they would pay damages
  • Damages to owners’ property: The insurance will not cover repairs, replacements, maintenance, etc.
  • Electronic data damage: Loss of hard drives, tapes, cell-data processing devices, or damage to application software
  • Damages caused by slander, libel, or violation of privacy
  • Pollution: Injury or property damage from pollution, such as waste dispersal and seepage

Generally, these limitations don’t address injuries to renters. As with any other accident caused by another’s negligence, it’s important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible afterwards, while one’s recollection is fresh. 

What You Should Do if You’re Injured at a VRBO? 

Getting injured on vacation can turn an otherwise perfect vacation into a nightmare. When an injury occurs at a VRBO rental, the first decision to make is where to seek medical treatment. That choice should be made based on the condition of the injury. If the injury isn’t life-threatening, it’s probably best to seek out an Urgent Care-type medical facility in the immediate area. If injuries are severe, get help and head to a hospital emergency room. 

Gathering evidence is very important, especially when filing a claim later. Take photos and videos of the injury, as well as of the location where the accident happened. In the hands of an experienced personal injury attorney, those images can help strengthen a case. Witness statements are a plus, too. Others will be able to provide a different perspective and corroborate the story. Whatever medical treatment is sought, be sure to get all the medical information and records, which can be turned over to an attorney handling the claim. 

A personal injury case can be time-consuming – some taking years – so it’s important to be aware of the statute of limitations for New York. The maximum time limit to file a personal injury claim is three years.

When deciding to make a claim, contact an attorney quickly to get the process underway. 

How to Prepare for a VRBO Claim

A VRBO guest who happens to get injured on a rental property should gather the evidence and work with an attorney to determine liability and who to pursue for compensation. Sometimes people who rent out their vacation home on VRBO have their own insurance. If the owner has personal insurance, the VRBO cover will be additional coverage. This is good to determine because the injured party knows there is money to cover their expenses. 

An attorney will handle all aspects of the claim, whether that means filing a lawsuit and/or reaching an out-of-court settlement. This is important because many personal injury cases end in settlements, with both parties never having to set foot into a courtroom. An attorney will also be an experienced negotiator, able to land a just settlement. Most likely they will be dealing with the owner’s insurer or a representative from Generali Global Assistance, and will prepare all documentation to present a strong case.

What Are the Safety Standards for VRBOs? 

VRBO has high standards for homeowners using their services. Keeping guests safe is VRBO’s top priority according to them. For this reason, it recommends the following set of guidelines:

  1. Provide safety equipment on the premises, such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, first aid kits, deadbolt locks, outdoor lighting, and fire extinguishers. 
  2. Post a marked map of a fire escape route. 
  3. Ensure the property is well-maintained and clean.
  4. Provide guests with information on local hospitals and emergency numbers. 

Some states have strict laws against home-sharing companies and New York is one of them. Homeowners need to adhere to the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL), which prohibits the un-hosted rental of fewer than 30 days for “Class A” multiple dwellings.  A “Class A” building is meant for permanent residential purposes. This means VRBO guests would need a booking of 30 days or more in the home to be legal.  Not following the law could mean fines for the owner. 

Would Homeowners Insurance Cover an Accident at a VRBO Rental? 

Homeowners insurance isn’t likely to cover VRBO damage or injuries. The home-sharing industry is fairly new and comes with its own unique set of circumstances. Because short-term leasing with VRBO is seen as a business endeavor, different coverage is needed. Homeowners need to carry a personal home commercial liability insurance policy for a VRBO accident to be covered. This comprehensive insurance extends to personal injuries and damage caused by business operations. VRBO owners in New York using these home-sharing platforms have access to the coverage they offer. However if a guest’s injury is beyond the scope of VRBO coverage, homeowners themselves may be held responsible. 

What if $1 Million is Not Enough?

A million dollars may seem like plenty of money to cover injuries. However, sometimes the injury can be so severe that it becomes easy to run through a million. Consider a catastrophic accident where one loses a limb or is permanently incapacitated for one reason or another. Apart from medical expenses – current and future – one may be unable to work for years, or even a lifetime. This is why it’s important to seek legal representation for an injury at a VRBO. Attorneys at Rosenblum Law will work with you to gather all the facts needed to present a winning case for compensation. We will represent you from start to finish whether negotiated with insurance providers and settling out of court, or going through an entire trial. 

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