Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Airbnb to offer insurance, credit for Covid-related cancellations

Airbnb is updating its products and policies for guests due to challenges caused by the Omicron variant.

Effective immediately, Airbnb is dedicating $20 million to provide coupons for future stays to guests that have had to cancel their bookings due to government mandates, such as border closures or mandatory extended quarantine requirements.

In cases where the host cancellation policy does not provide a full refund, Airbnb will give the guest a travel coupon worth 50 per cent of the unrefunded portion of the reservation. Airbnb says nearly two-thirds of its active listings now give a full refund on bookings canceled until five days before check-in (“moderate” policy) or 24 hours before check-in (“flexible” policy).

The new coupon program applies retroactively to reservations that have a check-in date on or after December 1, 2021, and it will end when all of the funds have been allocated or on April 30, whichever comes first.

Coupon recipients must use the credit for a stay with arrival on or before December 30, 2023.

Excluded from the program are bookings for Airbnb Luxe, Airbnb for Work, Experiences and bookings by guests whose country of residence is mainland China. According to Airbnb, those four categories are covered by different terms and conditions, which are made clear to the guest before confirming the booking.

Guests testing positive for Covid just prior to a reservation are still covered by Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy related to the coronavirus, so they are not eligible for this new program. The company first updated the policy to address the pandemic in March 2020, upsetting some hosts and leading Airbnb to dedicate $250 million to hosts to help cover the cost of COVID-related cancellations.

Along with this new offering of partial credit for future stays, Airbnb says it is developing a guest travel insurance product that will launch this spring. Airbnb says the product is being developed “in partnership with a reputable insurance carrier.”

In November, Airbnb launched AirCover, an insurance program for hosts that combines it prior protection products with additional coverage for things such as pet damage and deep cleaning.

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