These days, it’s not only B&B and hotel owners who can make money over the holiday period. With the rising popularity of property rental platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and local options like Wheretostay, anyone can be a ‘rentrepreneur’ – renting out spare rooms, beds or their entire house to make a bit of spare cash.

But before you hand over your keys and welcome your paying guests, be sure to check your insurance policy to make sure you are adequately covered, that your policy is up to date and that there is nothing in the rental contract that could cause a claim to be rejected.

What to watch out for

Whether you are renting out your entire house or only certain rooms, you could be vulnerable to the following risks:

  • Loss of, stolen or damaged items – where there are no signs of forced entry.
  • Burglaries – where guests neglected to activate your alarm system.
  • Injury liability claims from paying guests – if they injure themselves at your property, e.g. falling on a broken step.
  • Stolen or damaged personal belongings of guests in the event of a burglary or disaster such as a fire.

How to protect yourself from damages

  • Be careful about whom you accept as guests: Check that they have all their social accounts and their hard copy ID verified (i.e. passport).
  • Use the rental platform’s inbox to communicate with prospective guests before revealing your personal details. Ask a few questions – why they are travelling to your city, who will be staying, etc.
  • Check guest reviews and if there is anything alarming, you can always decline their offer.
  • Lock up your most valuable items: special crockery, jewellery, electronics, spare car keys, etc.
  • Beware of identity theft: lock away your passports, bills and other personal documents.
  • Do a thorough check of your property to see if there are any hazards that could cause damages or injury, from low-hanging branchesto cracked paving.
  • Add a security deposit option to your listing: This is easy to do on a platform such as Airbnb. Should you experience small damages such as broken wineglasses, you can take that out of a guest’s deposit.
  • Create an additional agreement: To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to have a written and signed agreement with a guest so that they are made aware that they will be held liable for any stolen or damaged items if there are no signs of forced entry. It is their responsibility to lock the property and activate relevant alarms before they go out.
  • NB: Notify your intermediary/insurer: Carefully check the conditions of your insurance policy as to what the requirements are when renting out your home. Clarify upfront all responsibilities and liabilities of the homeowner and that of the tenant. Your intermediary will helpful in making sure everything is in order.
  • Remember: Airbnb offers a ‘Host Guarantee’ of £600,000 however they make it clear that this is not insurance and should not be considered as a replacement or stand-in for homeowner’s insurance.

How Santam provides peace of mind

To protect yourself from vandalism, theft or injury claims from guests, we recommend adding the following additional products:

  • Additional optional cover for accidental damage to household contents: e.g. if your plasma television falls and breaks or if a guest’s child kicks a ball through a window, Santam will cover it.
  • Additional liability insurance: Protect yourself from injury claims by adding liability cover to your contents cover. Santam works with specialist underwriters who will cover you from R1 million.
  • Limited bed and breakfast cover: if you permanently live in your home and three or less bedrooms are rented out to guests then your home is treated as a B&B and as such you need bed and breakfast cover.

So whether you are letting your whole house or just a few rooms, it’s best to speak to your intermediary about your concerns or call Santam on 0860 444 444.

Remember to make use of Santam’s 24/7 SOS services over the holiday season. The home assistance service offers much needed support for emergencies related to plumbing, electrical and locksmith requirements as well as repair work to essential appliances. Also remember that Santam automatically provides an additional 10% cover on household contents between 15 December and 31 January annually, free of charge. Read more about the extra cover here.

To check or increase your cover, call 0860 444 444. If you are leaving your home in the care of a housesitter, read more about holiday home safety here.

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