Airbnb launches promised insurance, security programs

August 15, 2011

Airbnb, seen as an alternative to youth hostels and other cheap lodging options, is ramping up security after reports of unsavory guests. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The service, which ran into a public relations nightmare when blogger “EJ” posted her account of a disastrous stint of hosting, has now promised to insure anyone who offers their home for rent up to $50,000 in damages.

The company has also hired a director of customer support and is staffing a 24-hour hotline, adding a verification dashboard that links to profiles on other social networks, the ability for hosts to create video profiles and screen guests and a suggestion page to allow Airbnb users to weigh in on the new features.

Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb said in a statement, “Renting out one's home is incredibly personal, and the Airbnb Guarantee provides hosts with built-in protection to give them peace of mind.”

Only hosts in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece are currently eligible for the insurance, though the company says it plans to expand the program soon.

It covers damages made to property, but does not cover cash, jewelry or damage caused by accidents, negligence or wear and tear. The company suggests that hosts get a security deposit up front to cover those kinds of incidents.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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