Canadian Underwriter

B.C. insurer offers home insurance for Airbnb hosts


March 30, 2015   by Sara Tatelman


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A few U.S. auto insurers have policies in place for Uber drivers but a Canadian insurer is leading the way for homeowners participating in the sharing economy.

Square One Insurance, based in Vancouver, has been offering home insurance for Airbnb and other homesharing hosts in B.C., the prairies and Ontario since July 2013.

“I think that was a little bit ahead of its time,” says Daniel Mirkovic, Square One’s president. Two years later, “more and more people are not only listing their homes for rent in these programs but … are actually renting. Just the popularity has increased, so that’s why we’re starting to see more interest in the last little while.”

A host’s insurance premiums will increase by an average of 10 percent, Mirkovic says, and their deductible for crime-related losses jumps from $1000 to $2500 because “you are inviting someone into your home who you’re not necessarily all that familiar with. So there’s an increased risk there.” Deductibles for fire, water damage and earthquakes, among others, remain the same.

Mirkovic recommends hosts vet their guests online before accepting them, as well as ask for a copy of their own home insurance. This would cover damages to their belongings in the host’s home, as well as personal liability protection.

“The liability coverage included in your home insurance policy does not extend to the guests,” Square One’s 2013 press release stated. “That means if the guests accidentally sets fire to your neighbor’s home while using your barbecue, your neighbor will need to sue the guests and attempt to recover from the guests’ home insurance.”

Square One also offers tenants’ insurance on a monthly basis, so Airbnb guests staying put for a few months can cover their personal belongings and liability. “After the first month, you can cancel at any time,” says Mirkovic. “There are no penalties.”

Last month, CBC reported that many insurers won’t cover homeowners who rent out their space through Airbnb, while Airbnb’s liability insurance isn’t available in Canada. Instead, Canadians have a Host Guarantee, but Mikovic warns “…you don’t actually know what they’ll provide coverage for. They’re not giving you policy wordings and so you can submit and keep your fingers crossed that there might be some type of coverage afforded to you, but really, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re properly insured.”

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.