What’s Your Lawsuit Risk with Airbnb?


Using Airbnb, New York residents are able to rent out their home, apartment or condo to overnight guests. This service has become extremely popular. According to reporting from Forbes, as of July 2016, there were 41,373 active Airbnb listings in NYC alone.

Listing a property on Airbnb can be a good way to make some extra cash. According to Airbnb’s own internal data, the median NYC host made nearly $5,500 last year. That figure was earned on an average of just 47 nights of bookings.

While this certainly sounds great, prospective hosts should be also aware of the Airbnb risks before using this service. Specifically, Airbnb hosts must ensure that they are fully protected from any potential liability.

What Airbnb Hosts Need to Know about Premises Liability

Under New York state law, property owners have a legal obligation to keep their premises safe for invited guests. This duty requires all property owners to eliminate any unreasonable safety hazards from their property. In the event that a property owner, including an Airbnb host, fails to live up to this legal duty, they can be held liable for any resulting damages.

It is critical that hosts protect themselves from this risk of liability. If one of your Airbnb guests suffers a serious injury, you could be on the hook for a tremendous amount of money. The good news is that hosts can dramatically reduce their risks by obtaining proper insurance coverage.

It is important to note that your standard homeowner’s insurance policy may not apply in this situation. While you should always review the specific details of your policy to be sure, the vast majority of homeowner’s policies exclude coverage for any “business-related losses.” Would an Airbnb slip-and-fall accident be considered a business-related loss? The answer is often yes, at least under the broad definitions used by most insurance policies. This is because you are receiving an economic benefit in exchange for listing your property on Airbnb.

What Insurance Coverage Does Airbnb Offer?

Where your traditional homeowner’s policy falls short, Airbnb’s own insurance coverage can often provide necessary protection. The company often touts its $1 million Host Protection primary liability policy. This Airbnb liability insurance plan is offered to all hosts, free of charge. While there is no doubt that it provides extremely important protection, there are still some important potential gaps in the coverage.

  • What is covered by Host Protection Insurance? The plan provides coverage for the majority of guests’ injuries. For example, if your guest is injured in a slip-and-fall accident or by a falling shelf, their damages should be covered under the Host Protection Insurance. Further, if your guest accidentally injures a third party while on your premises, that injury will also likely be covered. Of course, questions of coverage will always depend on the specific circumstances involved in each case.
  • What is not covered by Host Protection Insurance? There are several types of potential financial liability risks that will not be covered under Host Protection. First, any intentionally caused injuries will not receive coverage. Additionally, if there is a problem with your property such as bed bugs or mold, and that property defect causes damage to the guest or their property, coverage may be disavowed. Finally, any damage to your personal belongings will also likely not be covered.

Ultimately, all NYC Airbnb hosts need to carefully consider their financial risks to ensure that they have obtained adequate insurance coverage. You need to protect yourself from both personal injury liability and losses associated with property damage. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to obtain a supplemental insurance coverage from Airbnb or a third-party insurer.

Were You Injured at a New York City Airbnb? Understand Your Rights

If you were injured at an Airbnb, you may have the right to recover compensation for your damages. Remember, under New York law, your host has a legal responsibility to look out for your safety. If their negligence contributed to your accident, they could be held responsible for your injuries. Determining responsibility in a premises liability case generally begins with asking two basic questions:

  • Was your injury reasonably foreseeable?
  • Could the property owner have reduced the injury risk?

If the answer to both those questions is “yes,” then you likely have a viable premises liability claim. Of course, answering these questions is not always easy. For example, imagine that you were seriously injured after slipping and falling on a wet Airbnb bathroom floor. Could the host have reasonably foreseen and reduced the risk of that accident? The answer depends on the specific circumstances of your case. This is why you should always have your case comprehensively reviewed by a qualified lawyer.

In New York, property owners are held to high safety standards. Your injury may have been caused by negligence even if you do not currently realize it. Further, speaking to an experienced New York premises liability lawyer is particularly important in Airbnb injury cases, as these claims are especially complex. Airbnb operates in a relatively new area of the law. In fact, there are still questions about whether listing a property on Airbnb is even legal in NYC. The housing advocacy organization MFY Legal Services, Inc. recently released a report claiming that 55 percent of New York City Airbnb listings are illegal. This is relevant for renters because sometimes insurance companies attempt to use legal ambiguities to deny any coverage for injury claims.

Contact Our Office Today

At the office of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., our team has extensive experience handling New York premises liability claims. If you have suffered an injury at an Airbnb in NYC, or if you have any questions about premises liability in general, please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about what we can do for you. We offer free initial case evaluations and will not collect a fee unless we win your case.

Author: David Resnick

Founder of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., a New York personal injury law firm in charge of providing exceptional and personal service to each of our clients in various areas including car accidents, slip and fall, wrongful death, construction accidents, and premises liability. David Resnick founded the firm in 1998 after working in large law firms where he saw a need for greater client communication and more personal care.

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