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I recently ran into a situation when staying at an AirBnb where there was an overflow in a toilet, the homeowner blamed me, and tried to get a good deal of money from me through AirBnb. AirBnb found in my favor, but this makes me hesitant about using AirBnb in the future if I essentially have uncapped liability. I was under the impression that the security deposit was the maximum they could extract, but that seems to be incorrect.

I know there is liability insurance, but I have always thought that was for professionals that performed the work.

So, my question is, whether AirBnb or a direct booking: What insurance can I get to limit my liability as a renter/guest?

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  • Check your private liability insurance, often included in/with your renters/homeowners insurance. But I have no idea if the typical policy in the US has exclusions for AirBnb etc.
    – xngtng
    Jan 20 at 15:39
  • e.g. allstate.com/tr/home-insurance/… "For instance, if you accidentally cause damage to your hotel's lobby, this coverage may help protect you if the hotel company seeks reimbursement.", but of course the devil is in the fine print on exactly what is covered and to what extent.
    – xngtng
    Jan 20 at 15:50
  • " I was under the impression that the security deposit was the maximum ... , but that seems to be incorrect." Well of course you are are still on the hook for the actual amount of damage you cause to something; you don't magically avoid liability if you cause $10,000 of damage to a hotel room simply because they only took a $250 security deposit. Basically a SD is an amount that's reasonable to charge customers (otherwise people will just go elsewhere) that will cover reasonable amounts of damage. There's always the edge case of rock-star levels of damage, which courts usually resolve.
    – eps
    Jan 25 at 18:50
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    " but this makes me hesitant about using AirBnb in the future if I essentially have uncapped liability." This is essentially always true and a fact of life, you are responsible for damages you cause that cause that you aren't insured for (and remember that every insurance has escape clauses and has teams of lawyers paid so they don't have to pay you -- insurance companies don't make money by writing checks). Even when you have insurance you might not have enough. Of course all this assumes it's worth it to sue you, no money, no point in suing, you can't get blood from a stone.
    – eps
    Jan 25 at 19:02
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What you're looking for is called "third party liability insurance" and is widely available worldwide. In the US it is usually sold as part of homeowners/renters insurance. Outside the US I've seen it sold as a separate product. Some travel insurance companies also include it as part of their package. It will cover accidental damage to other people's property and even more than importantly they have a team of lawyers on hand to scare off various scammers trying to charge you for no good reason. That being said, insurance is quite often a fraudulent product too and I strongly recommend avoiding to buy a policy without first finding several verified reviews where people received an actual payout after a claim. Unfortunately there's no such centralized website for insurance reviews, so you'll have to do some Googling for each insurance company.

Another option is often self-insurance. If you don't expect the claim to go over whatever you're comfortable spending in case of an accident, you don't need to buy insurance. A flooded toilet is probably a few thousand dollars at most, which might be okay depending on your income.

Finally some countries offer legal insurance where you pay a small fee each month and have access to a lawyer in case of a legal dispute. Having a lawyer send a strongly worded letter to the other party is often sufficient to stop them. If not, having a lawyer on hand is very useful to defend yourself in court. Remember that the other party can't just charge you willy nilly. They have to prove you're at fault in a court of law if you dispute their claim.

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