Airbnb’s refund policy specifically excludes Florida hurricanes
- Hurricane Ian decimated parts of Florida last week, with estimates damage costs up to $47 billion.
- Airbnb’s refund policy excludes Florida hurricanes because they are “common enough to be predictable.”
- As a result, customers whose stays have been canceled by the storm are not guaranteed a refund.
Travelers and Airbnb hosts who canceled reservations last week due to Hurricane Ian may have been surprised to learn that the historic storm was not covered by the app’s weather-related refund policy.
Indeed, the vacation rental platform’s “extenuating circumstances policy” — which automatically reimburses guests and waives cancellation fees for hosts during unforeseeable events — specifically excludes Florida hurricanes.
This is one of dozens of weather events, natural conditions and diseases that Airbnb considers “common enough to be predictable in this location,” including tropical storms, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, winter storms, and diseases endemic to various regions of the world. Similar guidelines are also applied by competitors Vrbo.
Florida regularly ranks as one of the most popular destinations on the Airbnb app. According to industry data site AirDNA, there are about 4,230 active short-term rentals on Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, two of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ian.
If guests canceled their stay because of the storm, Airbnb did not automatically refund the reservation. Instead, individual hosts must personally decide whether or not to issue full refunds under the normal terms of their listing. cancellation policy, Bloomberg reported last week.
A host who rented his Tampa home on Airbnb during the storm told the outlet that despite the city’s evacuation order, his guest was only entitled to a partial refund. However, he personally told the guest that if he initiated the cancellation from his side, he would give him a full refund.
According to Airbnb host cancellation policy, if hosts cancel reservations on their end, they may be charged a fee of between $50 and $1,000. However, an Airbnb spokesperson confirmed to Insider that the company made an exception during Hurricane Ian and allowed hosts in Florida to cancel without penalty.
Guests looking for more flexible cancellation terms can use Airbnb’s search filter for these listings, the spokesperson added.
A new-to-Airbnb host whose property lost power during the storm took to Reddit on Sunday to ask whether or not he should issue full refunds to his guests.
“Our customers are understandably upset by the situation and we are leaning towards offering refunds for their stays,” the user said. wrote. “We’re worried that if we don’t refund them, a bad review/high cancellation rate could really sink our ship. We called Airbnb but the wait is an hour and we’re waiting for a call back.”
But not all hosts have been so willing to issue full refunds. A guest who booked an Airbnb on Sanibel Island in two weeks said his host would not cancel the reservation or issue a refund.
“My host will not cancel the trip or issue refunds. Under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy, they specifically state that they do not provide hurricane coverage during Florida hurricane season,” said the guest. wrote on Reddit. “Is there anything that can be done? I’d like to get my money back somehow.”
The post received more than 200 replies, including several from guests in similar situations.
The predicament highlights what AirCover, the free travel protection included with every Airbnb stay, covers and does not cover. While the program is touted by Airbnb as the “most comprehensive protection in travel,” the company notes that it is not, in fact, travel insurance.
“AirCover is not travel insurance. You can always purchase travel insurance from a third-party carrier for additional coverage during your trip,” the company says.