Home-sharing guests destroy Toronto woman’s apartment

A ransacked house, stolen heirlooms and a mound of used condoms are a stark reminder of the need for broker-client communication.

Risk Management News


After a friend’s claim to have earned $80,000 renting out his property on a popular home-sharing service, Carmen Carubba decided to try it herself.
During her first trial with it, however, the “very pleasant” strangers who rented her Toronto-area Victorian home trashed it, leaving rotting food on the balcony, used condoms on the floor, and mattresses and bedding scattered throughout the property, according to a CBC report.
In addition, she estimates that they stole $20,000-30,000 worth of jewelry, some of which were irreplaceable family heirlooms.
Unlike the renters who decimated a Calgary home using AirBnb earlier this year, however, HomeAway does not have a guaranteed coverage amount for damages or theft, insisting that they are “expected to get their own insurance that covers vacation rental activity.”
The $3 billion dollar company insists that consumers should take precautions to avoid these types of situations, as a Google search of the renter’s phone number would have tied it to “a series of escort and prostitution sites.” But brokers can also play a meaningful role in preventing abuses within the shared economy.
“It’s a two-way street,” said Steve Kee, ‎director, media and digital communications at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “If you’re a consumer and want to enter into the shared economy, then you need to talk to your insurance representative. But from the broker or company perspective, you need to be very clear with your consumers about what the policy covers and what it doesn’t cover.”
Kee points out that Canadians have been leasing out their cottages to tourists for decades, so the concept of renting a vacation property isn’t new. But as home insurance policies treat various types of rental services differently, education should be the primary goal for brokers and clients.
“It’s easy to say after the fact, ‘it’s unfortunate and they should have done this or that,’” he said. “Instead, it’s better to get the message out ahead of time regarding shared economy services – whether it’s home, auto or whatever industry is next.”
In fact, he feels that industry professionals should stay apprised of new developments in the field and use that knowledge to open a valuable communication channel with clients.  
“For insurance companies, these are new exposures and new risks, but it’s an opportunity to have a discussion and figure out where coverage limits are and what you can be doing to help,” he said.

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