Alta’s guest died. Airbnb rentals let homeowners fight for compensation
OKOTOKS, Alta. ——
Warning: This story contains some pictures that may be disturbing.
April 26 is a day Tracey Tell will never forget.
Okotoks, Alta. A woman went home after a lunch break and found that a man who rented her basement suite had died.
“I am ashamed, I am afraid, I am sad,” Thiel said, holding back tears. “This man is only a few steps away from us. He didn’t ask for any help.”
Thiel said that her husband Robert first heard about the shower in the basement at about 10 in the morning, but the water was still running two hours later.
“My husband rushed downstairs to see what happened and found that he had fallen in the shower, so we called 911,” she said. “My husband performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation for him until the paramedic arrived, but unfortunately he was pronounced dead.”
Emergency officials confirmed to CTV News that the man died at home and was taken care of by the RCMP at the scene. The exact cause of death is not yet known, but no criminal charges have been filed and no foul play has occurred. The investigation has now ended.
However, as the man fell and covered the drain while showering, water and blood began to overflow, and the entire basement began to flood, causing heavy losses. Thiel said that all gypsum boards 60 centimeters above the ground were covered with water.
The presence of blood also means that the entire area is considered a biological hazard.
The Tell family stated that they immediately contacted Airbnb, and Airbnb should contact them to clean the basement, but said they had not received a response for several days.
Instead, the family said they contacted a professional restoration company and disinfected their home promptly at their own expense.
“We had a team coming in the next day, and they were wearing protective suits for hazardous materials,” Thiel said. “They built a tunnel from my basement to my garage, put everything in a sealed bag, put it in a funnel in my driveway, and it took three days to move everything in the basement. “
Based on the quotes the family received from the builder and restoration company, the basement loss is estimated to be US$54,778.
The family said they contacted their home insurance provider and they already knew they were renting out their basement. They said that the insurance company told them that because they were renting out the house at the time, Airbnb’s host protection plan covered everything.
In an email, Airbnb gave the Tell family 14 days to submit all photos, repair costs, and each damaged item. The family said that the quotations they received from the company did not cover all aspects.
Settlement proposal from AIRBNB
According to the exchange, Airbnb offered Tells its first offer of US$49,320 on June 10, and the second offer of US$52,471 on June 18. The family rejected both proposals because not all losses were included.
The Tell family received an ultimatum to accept any proposal within 48 hours.
Airbnb sent a follow-up email to the family on June 22, which read: “To expedite the claim, please tell us the value you are looking for so we can determine if it can be obtained.”
The Tell family again requested a repair price of $54,778.
Three weeks later, on July 14, they received an email from Airbnb, offering them a new settlement agreement worth $17,840, which is about a quarter of the June 18 offer.
“We were very shocked,” Thiel said. “The Airbnb mediator decided that because they couldn’t see the water damage in certain areas of the basement, they did two-thirds of the work, so he would cancel two-thirds of the amount he thought it should have and pay us. “
Airbnb’s host guarantee is not an insurance policy per se, but an internal plan that automatically applies to properties rented out through the site.
According to the company’s website, it covers hosting of up to $1 million:
Damage to your property caused by guests;
Damage to items caused by guests and;
Damage caused by the guest’s assistance animal.
The program does not protect against theft of cash and securities, damage caused by ordinary wear and tear, or personal injury to guests or others.
A statement from Airbnb to CTV News said:
“We strive to provide excellent support to our landlord community, especially since we take landlord guarantee claims very seriously. Our dedicated team is working hard to work with landlords and continue to support them through our landlord guarantee program.”
In an email obtained by CTV News, an Airbnb adjuster from Crawford & Co. stated that a fixed depreciation cost of 5% was applied to the repairs and damages in Airbnb’s claim.
Through depreciation, the claim was settled at actual cash value rather than replacement cost, which resulted in a quoted price of USD 52,471 on June 18.
However, Airbnb was unable to confirm to CTV News why the third and most recent $17,840 offer was made on July 14.
In the months after the incident, Tyre said that her life had changed drastically, and even seeing her basement made her cry.
Okotoks’ mother added that she felt traumatized and took a few days off to receive counseling to deal with it.
“I didn’t sleep, I had a lot of pain in my body, stress and pain didn’t combine well, so to be honest, I didn’t do well,” Thiel said.
“Someone contacted me to check into my Airbnb. They used to live with me and I had to refuse them.”
Thiel added that in the past few months, her family and friends have been very supportive of her.
Sandy Scott has been a close friend of Thiel for the past few years, and he has witnessed the impact of the situation with his own eyes.
“Tracy really has no sympathy for Airbnb,” Scott said.
“You will expect some kind of customer service, you will expect someone to say,’Let’s make it a priority because this is an extreme situation.'”
“Know Before You Rent”: Insurance Expert
Experts who often deal with insurance claims point out that renters must always understand the policies they have signed with their suppliers and understand third-party insurance plans.
“I think the most important thing is to keep your insurance company transparent,” said Meaghan Dolan, office manager at Alport Insurance.
Dolan added that insurance providers accept Airbnb because they will provide home guarantee protection in the event of a problem, but certain items may not be covered.
“Tell your insurance company, they may say it’s okay, but your policy will exclude the tenant’s vandalism, so any type of damage or theft caused by any tenant will not be covered by your policy,” she said .
“So, again, it depends on your insurance company. If you rent out your house, they may not provide you with a full insurance policy.”
So far, Airbnb has not paid any compensation to the Tell family. At this point, they said they have to bear the entire cost of the renovation company.
Thiel said she has contacted the company again and is waiting for a response.