UK: Ahead of the upcoming Short Stay Summit at Tobacco Dock, London, on Thursday 19 May 2022, STRz speaks to some of the industry leaders on the topic of the specialist insurance needs of the short-term rental sector.
- What will drive the pick-up of insurance in the sector?
Louise Birritteri: When people choose to share an asset as expensive and important as a home with guests they want to feel comfortable that their investment is protected. Equally, guests want to know that they are protected should they have an accident for example whilst they are holidaying.
From our market research, we know that most people sharing their home may have bought property insurance which they don’t realise is invalidated or has large gaps in cover when they have guests staying. It’s this lack of education and understanding which has led to the low level of adoption of the correct insurance in this market place.
At Pikl, we believe the insurance market has a duty of care to properly identify customers who participate in home sharing and make sure they have the correct insurance options provided to them when they buy property insurance. This is why we are working across the insurance market to help stimulate change in customer buying journeys to resolve this.
Leo Walton: At a very high level, we have seen a huge push to professionalise the short-term rental sector, which is driving really positive behaviours. I would expect most property managers these days to require their hosts to have valid insurance in place for their property and only to use contractors – for maintenance, cleaning etc – who are appropriately insured themselves. All of which is great for our sector.
However, from a guest perspective, I don’t see how having insurance in place [which after all isn’t a legal requirement] is going to impact where they choose to stay. A guest wants to have certainty that a property is going to be as they expect it to be when they arrive and that it is professionally managed. Whether or not the host has bought insurance will be slightly irrelevant from that perspective.
Paul Marshall: We’re finding that more property owners are moving from Assured Shorthold Tenancy [AST] lets to short stay letting for tax reasons, partly driven by the increase in people opting for UK staycations rather than going on holiday abroad, given recent travel uncertainties.
The risks associated with not being insured correctly need to be highlighted more prominently in the industry’s marketing and we could see an increase in uptake that is driven by publicity given to claims being declined under household policies for short-term rental activity.
- How have you designed your products so that they provide the right cover and offer good value?
LB: There is a broad church of operators in the short-term rental market; amateur individual home sharers to professional operators with multinational operations.
Our products have been designed to meet the needs of the different segments which exist through research and collaboration with operators. Often, for the large professional operators it will be a bespoke product which is designed to meet their needs.
At the amateur level, the products have been designed to help these customers get the best priced deal on their insurance and include ‘pay-as-you-go’ options. At the professional end, we include technology services to help prevent claims and verify guests identities as well as protect the insurance protection needed.
- Why should property management companies take a role in helping customers take out insurance?
- What scenarios are there where insurance would provide cover that you might not think of?
LB: Some of the most significant claims seen are for public liability – where a guest has an injury.
A 2019 Quality in Tourism survey showed that 83 per cent of consumers felt it was essential that short stay accommodation has insurance in place. Guests are used to the fact that it’s usually mandatory for hotels to have public liability protection in place and they assume this is the case with vacation stays.
If a guest has an injury, they could potentially sue for millions. Even just fighting the court case could take hundreds of thousands of pounds.
It’s just not worth the risk.
Some of the most common claims we see are guests having parties and trashing the property or even stealing from it. This can again run into hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage and significant hassle which is not covered my most insurers.
For the small number of insurers that give protection, most often put high minimum claims or low maximum claims limits on them.
At Pikl, this is a core area of cover for us.
LW: Whilst there is not currently any legal requirement in the UK to maintain property insurance of any type when entering into the hosting arena, it could be potentially disastrous not to have appropriate insurance in place. As well as the potential for damage to your home, the consequences of injury to a guest, for which a host is found liable, could be life-changing. These are not new risks – more and more property insurers are allowing homeowners to engage in short-term rental activity without invalidating coverage, but it is vital that you have told your insurer of any such activity and understand their response.
Then make sure you have a plan in place to suit you, in relation to any damage that your guests might cause. This could be anything from holding a large deposit, only accepting friends of friends, through to the financial backing from SUPERHOG guest screening checks. Focus on professionalising yourself as a host and do all you can to close the risk gap.
PM: Our serviced accommodation policy also covers ‘rent-to-rent’ which most people wouldn’t traditionally think of as serviced accommodation. The policy will provide cover for an unoccupied property for 30-45 days at a time [depending on the insurer] with no limit to how many times this can occur in a policy year. This means that you don’t need to move the property to an unoccupied property policy unless this period is exceeded.
The Short Stay Summit on Thursday 19 May will feature a vibrant mix of presentations from many high-profile industry leaders alongside fireside chats, panel debates and plenty of opportunities for networking.
A number of leading industry brands are sponsoring the event, including title sponsor Vrbo [part of Expedia Group], platinum sponsors Booking.com and Host & Stay, gold sponsor Styled Interior Design, silver sponsors Sykes Holiday Cottages, Beyond, CoStays, Awaze, Hospiria and UnderTheDoormat, and ruby sponsors PriceLabs and Guesty.
On the evening [Wednesday 18 May] preceding the event, the annual Shortyz Awards, organised by ShortTermRentalz, will be held near to Tobacco Dock at The Skyline London to celebrate the excellence demonstrated by companies in the sector.
Book your tickets for the 2022 Short Stay Summit at this link.