The Ultimate Guide to Damage Protection for Short-Term Rentals
If you're a short-term rental host, you know that accidents can happen. And when they do, it's crucial to have short-term rental insurance to help cover the costs. However, it is also critical to have a damage protection plan in place from the moment you start hosting. A damage protection plan will help prevent damages from even occurring, minimize the impact of risky situations as they occur, and understand how to recoup your losses when the unavoidable happens. In this guide, we'll discuss damage protection and prevention and why you need more in place than just an insurance policy.
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What Is a Damage Protection Plan?
A damage protection plan is a holistic approach to help protect hosts from paying for damages that occur on their property. A damage protection plan includes a short-term rental insurance policy, but it also includes devices and practices designed to prevent damage from ever occurring. Having a damage protection plan in place essentially includes a three-fold strategy: preventing damage from occurring in the first place, managing and minimizing damage while it is occurring, and recouping any losses from damage that still occurs.
Why Do You Need A Damage Protection Plan?
No one likes to imagine that guests will damage their property. But it can and does happen. This is why it is important to have a plan that prevents damage, stops it while it is happening, and has a policy in place to help cover the costs. Without damage protection, you could be left open to more damage, and footing the bill for damages on your property. It is essential to have your own damage prevention policies in addition to the provided protection from platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Their protection plans may not always be enough to cover your needs, and their reporting process can be lengthy. Having additional damage protection like short-term rental insurance will help ensure that you receive funds promptly without jumping through hoops and delaying the process.
How to Prevent Damage from Happening
Regularly Inspect Your Property:
A great way to prevent damages from happening is by regularly inspecting your property. This means checking for things like spills, stains, and broken furniture. If you catch any issues early on, you can address them before they become more significant problems.
Create a Damage Prevention Policy:
One of the best ways to protect your property is to create a damage prevention policy document for your guests to read. This document should outline what guests are and are not allowed to do in your rental and what will happen if they do damage the property. Having a policy in place will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and know what is expected of them. You can easily include this as part of your house rules.
Consider Collecting a Security Deposit:
A security deposit is a good option to help protect your wallet in the event of damages. This amount of money is collected from guests when they book your rental. It is held until they leave and then used to cover any damages that may have occurred. This can be a useful way to discourage guests from damaging ther property, and to help offset the costs of damages, especially if they are significant.
Verify Guest’s Identity
One way to prevent damage from happening in the first place is by verifying the identity of your guests. Airbnb, for example, has introduced a protocol in the US that aims to identify and ban guests who are more likely to cause damage. This is done by requiring guests to upload a valid ID with their legal name and address and prove they are over 18 years old. The check is done by cross-referencing the name and date of birth provided on the reservation with public records.
If you're a host, it's essential to be vigilant in verifying your guest's identity. This will help ensure that only those authorized to stay in your property do so and avoid any damages that may come as a result of hosting unverified guests.
Airbnb is not the only platform that requires guest verification. Other home-sharing platforms, such as VRBO and HomeAway, also have similar requirements in place.
Although turning off Instant Book may seem like the easiest solution, it's important to remember that doing so could mean losing out on potential guests. A better solution is to require guests to verify their identities before booking. If your guests are booking directly, this can be done by asking them to upload a valid ID with their legal name and address and prove they are over 18 years old.
Stop Damage In Its Tracks
Install Party Prevention Devices:
One way to help prevent excessive damage from happening is to stop it once it has started. Items like noise monitors and security cameras can help you realize damage is occurring and stop it in its tracks.
Noise Monitors: A noise monitor is a tool that helps keep track of the volume at your rental property. It does not record conversations, and it is essential to communicate this to guests to ensure privacy. Loud music or conversations by a large group are the type of situations that would send an alert. If alerted, this allows the host to address the problem.
Security Cameras: Installing security cameras at your rental property is vital for protecting your property and protecting yourself from lawsuits and liabilities. Security cameras can also make your guests feel safer. Footage from outdoor Airbnb security cameras can also be used as evidence when filing a claim with Airbnb for broken house rules or damage. It is essential to disclose if you have security cameras in use to your guests.
Utilizing Other Smart Devices
Smart Cabinet Locks: Installing smart locks on cabinets or drawers are a great option to protect yourself from nosy guests. You can lock things that are accessible by code or even fingerprint. These are great options for liquor and medicine cabinets.
Smart Locks: Integrating a smart lock with Host Tools will create unique entry codes for each guest, make them live only during a guest’s stay, and will let your guest know how to check in. This provides both you with peace of mind knowing that former guests can’t access your property and use it as a party pad when it's empty.
Recoup Losses from Damages
Purchase Short-Term Rental Insurance
Short-term rental insurance is crucial to protecting your property from damage. This type of insurance provides coverage for things like accidental damage, theft, and vandalism. In addition, it can be an excellent option for properties that are not covered by traditional homeowners' or renter's insurance policies.
File a Claim with Airbnb
If you’re hosting on Airbnb and a guest damages your property, Superhosts will have their reimbursement fast-tracked when filed through the Resolution Center. From there, guests will have 72 hours to fulfill the payment. If the guest does not complete the task, you’ll be able to utilize AirCover with a support team member. For liability insurance claims, hosts will file online and receive a decision within 24 hours. Unfortunately Booking.com does not offer protection from guest damage, and VRBO only provides liability with their Host Protection.
In conclusion, it is crucial to have a damage protection policy in place to help cover the costs of damages that may occur in your short-term rental property. You can protect your property by purchasing short-term rental insurance, installing party prevention devices, regularly inspecting your property, collecting a security deposit from guests, and verifying guest’s identities. Having a three-fold damage prevention policy in place is essential for running any successful short-term rental business. With a damage protection policy, alongside automating your daily hosting tasks with Host Tools, you will be set up to manage your rental business smoothly and efficiently.