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Airbnb: Tactical Tips to Recognize and Repel Nightmare Renters

Ontario Insurer Takes on Home Sharing Abusers with Powerful New Policy

Lindsay, ON (July 10, 2017) – The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group, a local home and auto insurance company, today announced the launch of a new policy to protect clients against home sharing rentals gone wrong on popular sites like Airbnb, FlipKey, and HomeAway. Known as Host Shield Insurance, the policy protects many of the areas where occasional home renters could be compromised including: theft, vandalism and innkeepers’ liability up to $10,000 per claim.  The product fills potential gaps hosts may not be aware of, from insurance policies provided by the various home sharing sites. As part of the launch, The Commonwell recruited former Toronto detective James Downs for inside tips to Identify reckless renters. In his 22-year career, Downs specialized in organized crime, drug and biker cases and is currently a co-founder and security consultant at MKD International Inc.

Tactical tips to avoid Airbnb Abusers:

1) Knowledge is power:
Before you start renting out your property, get as much information about your guests as possible. Create an online application form or a PDF that you can email to a potential renter. You want to ask reasonable questions to get a picture of who the renter is and proof that it’s accurate. According to Downs, you should always ask for a copy of a drivers licence or provincial ID card, credit card info, a cell phone number, social media handles and address. You can also ask for, but might not get, the name and address of an employer.

2) Google Gratuitously:
You can verify a lot of the information from your guests by checking out their social media, like Linked-in, Facebook and Instagram. See if the city and contact information lines up. If you see any major red flags, trust your intuition. Just try running their name in Google and see if anything comes up, if they are a serial Airbnb abuser, maybe they’ve been flagged by another home owner on a chat board etc.

3) Charge forward:
When getting a credit card number from the guest, explain that you will be immediately charging both the total fees for their stay and an appropriate (and refundable) damage deposit. Perhaps $300-$500 for a home rental. If they object or don’t have enough credit to process the payment – decline the rental, it’s a red flag and you need to protect your home and property.

4) Don’t be shy:
As inexperienced innkeepers, some Canadians feel shy about asking for a credit card to be charged and for a damage deposit. This is a completely reasonable demand, says Downs.

5) Trust your gut:
Though most (or all) of your interactions with the guests will be via email, you need to listen to your intuition, says Downs, if they are reluctant to give you key information or have elaborate stories to explain delays – it’s a definite red flag.

6) Neighbourhood watch:
If you are renting out your property, it’s likely that you live in an area where other homeowners are doing the same. Try and enlist a fellow renter or family member to drive by your property and make sure everything looks right. This is an easy way to protect your property even after you rent it out to guests. The Commonwell created the new policy based on customer demand from the Ontario markets that they serve, many of whom have ideal vacation rental properties that they choose to list on home sharing sites.

“Home sharing sites like Airbnb are realities of the new economy and many of our clients in small and rural communities are leveraging them for additional income,” said Tim Shauf, President and CEO of The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group. “We needed to step up and offer them an affordable way to protect their properties against potential damages.”

About The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group:
Established January 1st 2014, The Commonwell is a merger of three longstanding mutual insurance companies that has been built on more than a century of hands-on commitment to the local communities it serves. Since its founding three years ago, The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group operates on the same historical premise of its three legacy companies – maintaining a focus on local presence and service that builds strong long-term relationships for the benefit of the greater community.

SOURCE: The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

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