Many South Africans have become Airbnb hosts, either as a main income source or savvy side hustle. In fact, a report from Airbnb last year showed there are about 35 000 SA home hosts (65% of whom are women), collectively earning over $260-million, with a ripple economic impact of $678-million (from 1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018). No wonder becoming a host is a tempting proposition! But there are some serious considerations, especially over busy times like the Easter holidays.
Every year over Easter, Santam sees an upsurge in household contents claims. Inevitably, a property being used as an Airbnb is going to have different insurance considerations. As a host, it’s imperative you take these into account to ensure you’re adequately covered over one of the busiest seasons of the year.
Marius Neethling, Underwriting Manager: Personal Lines at Santam, shares ways you can make sure that your Airbnb household contents are properly covered, with all security measures considered:
- Inform your insurer that your property will be used as an Airbnb
It is important that your insurer is informed that your property will be used as an Airbnb, so you’re adequately protected with properly calculated premiums. It’s in your interest to tell your insurer about all the security features in your home. Generally, there will be specific security requirements in order to qualify for burglary and theft cover.
- Screen your prospective guests before you host them
It’s your prerogative to check your guests’ reviews from previous hosts they’ve stayed at to ensure they treat your home respectfully. If they’ve received some negative reviews for disrespecting other hosts, you have the jurisdiction to reject their request to book your space. Remember, Airbnb is a two-way process – both guests and hosts are rated.
- Set an emergency plan
You need to have a manual for guests detailing what to do if an emergency arises. Make sure it’s obvious where the fire extinguisher is located and include important information like emergency numbers for the police, fire station and hospital. Clearly show emergency exit routes out of your area.
- Invest in a security system
A home security system is important for your – and your guests’ – peace of mind. Invest in a home security system that allows for home automation. This enables you to control your security system easily using your mobile device – you can turn off or on the lights, lock the doors or control the heating when there are no guests in your home.
It is important to note that when you install a security system you need to be aware of Airbnb’s security policies to avoid any legal implications. Avoid putting cameras in the guest rooms, but if you have off-limit areas, you could use monitors to track if a guest is intruding in your private space.
Neethling advises that individuals should consult with brokers during the process of listing their homes as an Airbnb. This way, necessary precautions are taken to mitigate risks. He also urges hosts to take factors like load shedding into account, “To prevent unforeseen damage and losses, we urge clients to revisit their insurance cover and obtain advice to consider different circumstances and risk situations, which may arise as a result of power cuts.”
Regarding claims by hosts, Neethling concludes that each claim is handled on a case-by-case basis, “Santam will not unduly prejudice a policyholder. The policy contract remains the basis for all claims settlements.