Airbnb neighbour damages your property? Insurance won’t help

By Lisa Tanh

A freehold property owner in Vancouver claims Wawanesa Insurance will not cover damage incurred by neighbouring Airbnb operators.

Last week, Shane Richardson, a freehold property owner in Vancouver, renewed his home insurance with Wawanesa Insurance, one of the largest property and casualty insurers in Canada. Wawanesa operates all over Canada and within California and Oregon in the United States.

Richardson claims Wawanesa said they will not cover damage incurred by neighbouring Airbnb operators and vice versa.

“They said because it’s illegal, we won’t cover you,” Richardson said. “So I said, what about our neighbors? And they said, if your neighbors run an Airbnb, then you’re not covered either.”

Stefan Tirschler, product + underwriting manager at Square One Insurance Services, the first home insurance provider in Canada to design coverage specifically for short-term rental operators, said this depends on the kind of home insurance that the Airbnb operator had purchased.

“If the Airbnb operator did not advise their home insurance provider of their Airbnb operation and if the Airbnb operator did not purchase a home insurance policy that was designed for short-term rentals, then the Airbnb operator’s policy might indeed exclude coverage for their liability to neighbours who were damaged,” Tirschler said.

Richardson claimed the activity that incurs damage does not have to be illegal.

“If something catches fire and that fire hops houses and burns half the block down, we all have to make a claim on our own insurance – even though it’s no fault of our own,” Richardson said.

Richardson claimed that Wawanesa said clients can personally sue their neighbour and advised him not to.

“The burden goes on the neighbors to go after that person personally or subject themselves to a higher rate class and higher risk class with their insurance company,” Richardson said.

Tirschler said this is not necessarily the case.

“Home insurance premiums are calculated using dozens of factors. While making a claim may result in a temporary increase in premium, this pales in comparison to the costs of pursuing litigation against a third party. Homeowners with established claims-free insurance history may even enjoy protection from losing their claims-free discount,” Tirschler said.

Following Richardson renewing his home insurance, he took to Twitter to share his conversation with Wawanesa. The tweet has created a discussion on how a neighbor’s activity affects an individual’s home insurance and if the city in Richardson’s jurisdiction can be sued.

Wawanesa could not be reached for comment.

[Photo Credit: Mike Gabelmann]

3 Responses to Airbnb neighbour damages your property? Insurance won’t help

  1. Nelson says:

    This guy is just mad that his neighbor’s insurance won’t cover his home. He has it correct here:

    “If something catches fire and that fire hops houses and burns half the block down, we all have to make a claim on our own insurance – even though it’s no fault of our own,” Richardson said.

    Alternatively, individuals faced with this issue can personally sue their neighbour.”

    I don’t get why people don’t understand that YES you buy insurance to cover the bad things that happen to you that are not your fault. Nobody will insure you and pay you out if you deliberately set your own house on fire. That is a moral hazard and would encourage insurance fraud. And because your insurance company is stepping in to pay to build you a new house it is up to them to decide to sue a neighbor and subrogate the costs on your behalf but they don’t have to do so. Sometimes the legal fees and years in litigation are more expensive than just putting you back to where you were before the fire with a newly built house, new contents and paying for your hotel room/rental until your house is rebuilt.

    You can buy insurance for short term rentals as a host. It’s not easy. And Wawanesa the insurance company has a program for landlords if you live in the home along with the airbnbguests in their updated manual. Again it is not a preferred rating class but it does exist and there is a saying in this industy: If Wawanesa won’t insure it, goodluck. They have some of the more generous underwriting guidelines in the industry. I’m more than happy to recommend Wawanesa to my clients based on claims experience along with Intact and Aviva insurance among others. If you require a home insurance quote in the greater metro Vancouver area I would encourage you send me an email at [email protected]

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is how Insurance works.
    You pay a deductible when you have a claim. Did a 5 year old write this?

  3. Anonymous says:


    It seems fair to say that most people would be mad if their neighbour’s insurance didn’t cover them for damage that their neighbour caused. You seem to be missing the point. The salient fact is that the City of Vancouver is purposely exposing its residents to unnecessary risk due to their purposeful unwillingness to enforce existing and long-standing by-laws. The owner of this detached freehold property in Vancouver Proper is well aware of insurance coverage and liability, your personal attack is rather inappropriate — please stay focused and stick to the facts.

    If someone else causes the incident, their insurance should pay. That is the crux of the concern being expressed by this home owner. If they don’t have insurance, that’s a different matter altogether and hence another example of the value in having insurance. But, but, but, if the other person does have insurance, their insurance should be covering the damages caused to others — instead what has been explained is that even though the neighbour was negligent, their insurance wouldn’t be valid because the activities were not legal.

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