July 10, 2017 by Canadian Underwriter
Lindsay, Ont.-based The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group, a home and auto insurance company, announced on Monday the launch of a new policy designed to protect clients against “home sharing rentals gone wrong” on popular sites like Airbnb, FlipKey and HomeAway.
Known as Host Shield Insurance, the policy protects many of the areas where occasional home renters could be compromised, including theft, vandalism and innkeepers’ liability up to $10,000 per claim, The Commonwell explained in a press released. “The product fills potential gaps hosts may not be aware of, from insurance policies provided by the various home sharing sites,” the release said.
A spokesperson for The Commonwell explained that some home sharing sites provide some form of coverage while the risk is being rented while others do not (home sharing risk is considered a commercial activity and is excluded from the base personal lines policy). If a homeowner uses a site that does not provide insurance coverage, there is a significant gap, the spokesperson said. For example, some sites, like Airbnb, provide coverage for third party and first party loss, but do not provide details of what is excluded – “no policy wording or declaration is provided, leaving significant unknowns until time of loss.”
As part of the launch, The Commonwell recruited former Toronto detective James Downs for inside tips to identify “reckless renters.” In his 22-year career, Downs specialized in organized crime, drug and biker cases and is currently a co-founder and security consultant at MKD International Inc. in Vaughan, Ont.
The tips include:
“The Commonwell created the new policy based on customer demand from the Ontario markets that they serve, many of whom have ideal vacation rental properties that they choose to list on home sharing sites,” the release said.
Tim Shauf, president and CEO of The Commonwell, added that “home sharing sites like Airbnb are realities of the new economy and many of our clients in small and rural communities are leveraging them for additional income. We needed to step up and offer them an affordable way to protect their properties against potential damages.”
Established Jan. 1, 2014, The Commonwell is a merger of three longstanding mutual insurance companies “that has been built on more than a century of hands-on commitment to the local communities it serves.” Since its founding three years ago, the release said, The Commonwell operates on the same historical premise of its three legacy companies – “maintaining a focus on local presence and service that builds strong long-term relationships for the benefit of the greater community.”