Airbnb’s Free AirCover Insurance Could Cost You Thousands of Dollars

Talk to any Airbnb guest and you’ll likely hear stories of hosts canceling their reservations, sometimes without notice.

The company’s new AirCover insurance is intended to address these concerns and, in the words of CEO Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, “gives you the confidence to book knowing Airbnb has your back.”

Included free with all Airbnb reservations, AirCover’s “Reservation Protection Guarantee” states that if your host cancels your reservation within 30 days of check-in, Airbnb promises to “find you a similar or better place, or we will reimburse you”.

That certainly sounds good, but there’s a real risk that it will leave travelers with a false sense of security – and face an exorbitant bill if their host bails out the reservation.

The catch is that even if Airbnb chooses to refund you, you’ll have to try and find a new place to stay on short notice, which means a hotel might be your only option.

And booking anywhere for a few days to a week in a hotel, especially so close to your arrival date, will cost you dearly.

Aside from the mental and emotional stress if Airbnb leaves you dry, there’s the financial stress of starting your vacation or business trip having already shelled out thousands of dollars just to have a roof over your head.

If anything, AirCover is really fair the basic consumer protection everyone is entitled to when you don’t get what you pay for – meaning Airbnb’s insurance really only protects itself.

Yes, Airbnb says it will try to find a “similar or better” Airbnb property for you, but the reality is that arranging a comparable stay – in terms not just of number of rooms and facilities, but of specific factors that may have driven your decision , such as location or proximity to public transport – could prove extremely difficult, and the later your host cancels, the more difficult it will become.

Which leaves Airbnb with the quickest, easiest, and probably cheapest solution: refund your money and let you take care of everything from there.

In any city or town, a hotel room will cost far more than a night in an Airbnb – in larger cities, during high seasons and peak holiday periods, you might not have no choice but to pay a week’s worth of an Airbnb stay a few nights at the hotel.

Last-minute cancellations remain Airbnb’s biggest risk, and its vaunted AirCover insurance does little or nothing to address this problem.

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