What Does Travel Insurance Cover with Airbnb and Uber?

Published on Wednesday, July 13, 2016
What does your travel insurance policy cover with Airbnb and Uber

The world of travel is drastically changing. App-based ridesharing services are quickly replacing the traditional yellow taxi, and the bed and breakfast experience is no longer reserved for your grandparents and their annual trips to the apple country of upstate New York.

In 2015 alone there were an estimate 365 million Uber rides taken, and about 80 million people booked housing through Airbnb.

With hoards of people making use of these affordable and easy-to-use services when planning trips, how do these 21st century perks fall into your travel insurance plan?

Note: It is important for travelers to always closely read the policy details and confirmation of benefits before and after purchasing a travel insurance policy.  

Airbnb functions no differently than a hotel under most travel insurance plans

Ask anyone who has ever booked a stay at an Airbnb and they will unanimously tell you it is nothing like staying at a hotel. Those differences are enough for a blog posts on its own.

But, for the purpose of travel insurance, Airbnb is really no different than a hotel.

Basically, staying at Airbnb lodging as opposed to a chain hotel should not affect any part of a traveler’s travel insurance policy. Travelers should still be entitled to the same benefits (assuming the exemptions in a policy’s explanation of benefits are adhered to).

For example, say your traveler has to cancel their Airbnb reservation. The way Airbnb works is the later a renter cancels, the less money the renter is refunded. However, assuming the cancellation is a covered reason as outlined by the travel insurance policy’s explanation of benefits, the traveler should be refunded any of the money not refunded by Airbnb. If an Airbnb host cancels on a traveler, the traveler receives a full refund from Airbnb within their outlined terms (and not from your travel insurance provider).

Staying in an Airbnb also does not affect the medical coverage within a traveler’s travel insurance plan assuming the traveler follows the exemptions outlined in the explanation of benefits (intoxication, pre-existing conditions, etc.).

Again, it is important for travelers to closely read their travel insurance policy to verify the terms.

Uber and other ridesharing services are covered a little differently

With an average of one million Uber rides occurring every single day, there have to be a great number of travelers using the service while on a trip. So what’s the deal with Uber and travel insurance?

There is one important thing to note when it comes to Uber and other ridesharing services: they are not considered common carriers by many travel insurance policies.

A common carrier is defined as any land, sea, or air conveyance operating under a valid license for the transportation of passengers for hire, not including taxicabs or rented, leased, or privately owned motor vehicles.

Just like an Airbnb is not a hotel, Uber’s are undoubtedly not taxis. However, they definitely are privately-owned motor vehicles. Each Uber driver owns their individual vehicle, meaning the service cannot be covered as a common carrier.

So what does that mean for a traveler’s insurance policy?

As always, it is best for travelers to closely read their description of coverage. But in general, missed connections or any other travel delays directly caused by Uber or other ridesharing services may not be covered under most policies. Other things such as damaged luggage or cancellations due to a hypothetical Uber driver strike may not also be covered.

So what should travelers do?

Well first, travelers should definitely buy travel insurance no matter if they are staying in the penthouse of a hotel or a spare room in an Airbnb; traveling from place to place in a private helicopter or in the backseat of an Uber X.

Just because Uber and other ridesharing services are not considered common carriers under most policies, it is still important to be covered under a travel insurance policy. Even if a traveler plans to take Uber ride after Uber ride while on their trip, there are still many ways in which they are covered.

Secondly, travelers should closely read their policy’s description of coverage and develop a strong understanding about what is covered. Every travel insurance policy is different, and travelers should never be stuck abroad with uncertainty. And if any questions arise about the policy, a call to the insurance agency’s customer service team is strongly recommended.  

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