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Insurance for Home Sharers

Home-sharing services and your homeowners policy may cover liability and damages by tenants, but the insurance may fall short.

Question: I'm thinking about renting out my house through a home-sharing service while I'm away for a few weeks. Do home-sharing services provide any insurance? G.P., Baltimore, Md.

Answer: Home-sharing services may offer some coverage, but ask about limits or gaps. Airbnb provides (free) $1 million in insurance for damages and $1 million for liability. HomeAway provides $1 million in liability coverage at no charge and sells insurance for your building and possessions.

But your homeowners policy may already have you covered for occasional short-term rentals, depending on the insurer and your state. In many cases, insurers will cover damages to your home and liability resulting from brief rentals, but your policy may exclude coverage for theft or damage of your possessions. Some insurers offer extra coverage to fill in gaps—Allstate's HostAdvantage (available in 12 states) costs $50 per year to cover $10,000 of your personal property per rental period. Some insurers don't cover short-term rentals at all. Dennis Hilton, an independent agent in Damariscotta, Maine, says that only two of the six insurers he works with offer coverage for rentals of up to 12 weeks a year. Homeowners need to tell their insurer about plans to rent out their house and verify what the company covers, he says.

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