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The Beginner’s Guide to Short-Term Rentals

From a stylish urban loft to a cozy country cottage… booking a short-term stay is a hot trend (and a great way to travel like a local.)

Maybe you’ve considered becoming a host yourself. If so, you’ve probably wondered: Is it safe? Can I actually make money doing this? What amenities should I offer my guests?

Good news: You’re asking all the right questions.

Whether you’re looking to rent out your entire home, a guest house or a single bedroom, it pays to do some research first. From vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO® to home-sharing sites like Couchsurfing – even old-fashioned weekly and monthly rentals! – there’s no shortage of options.

Keep reading to find out what great hosts know – and what you should know about your homeowners insurance if you’ll be hosting short-term rental guests.

3 Essential Tips for First-Time Hosts

As a host, a little preparation goes a long way. Before you list your property online, think through these three topics: 

  • Pricing: To determine the rate you’ll charge for your rental, start by doing some research. Use sites like Airbnb and VRBO® to find comparable listings in your area to determine a competitive price point.
  • Marketing: A picture says a thousand words. When developing your listing, be sure to take photos that show your home in a positive light. Then, write a detailed listing description with all the reasons why your home is a great place to stay. Pro tip: Be descriptive, but don’t oversell it. Travelers value honesty and transparency, and exaggerations won’t do you any favors when it comes time for your guests to leave you a review.
  • Hospitality:  Keep your home stocked with convenience items like shampoo and face wash in the bathroom, or pantry staples and a few fresh groceries in the kitchen. Make sure your space is free of clutter and give your guests a place where they can relax and feel at home.

How does insurance work for short-term rentals?

This can get tricky. Let’s explain.

Your listing site’s insurance

 If you want to host short-term rental guests, do your research on what your online listing site does (and doesn’t) cover. For example, not every listing site offers liability coverage for hosts. Make time to talk to an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent to understand how you can customize your own insurance policy to bridge the gap.

Your own insurance policy

 Here’s the good news: With ERIE, you have options to customize your existing coverage for home sharing – depending on what you’re renting, and for how long. 

  • To rent out your primary home: If you want to rent out your own residence –whether it’s your whole home or just a spare bedroom – ask about adding the new home sharing endorsement* to your ErieSecure homeowners policy. (More detail on that below.)
  • To rent out a rental property: If you own a property exclusively used for renters or tenants (like an apartment building or cottage), an ErieSecure Rental or Ultrapack Plus policy has built-in coverage for home sharing. You’re covered to host short-term tenants, as long your place is listed on a reputable website that offers liability coverage equal to $1,000,000 or greater for bodily injury to or property damages of guests.  

Why should I add the home sharing endorsement to my homeowners insurance?

 The new home sharing endorsement* from Erie Insurance is designed with short-term rentals in mind. You’ll want to consider it if you’re opening up your primary residence (your own home) to short-term tenants for fewer than 180 consecutive days per year.

This endorsement offers additional protection that would apply if something were to happen to a renter or their belongings while renting all or part of your home – for example, if a burst pipe in your home causes water damage to a traveler’s expensive DSLR camera, or your renter is injured by falling down a flight of stairs.

Here’s a little more about how it works: 

  • Extra protection: Coverage is provided up to the liability limit for certain coverages on your homeowners policy, which typically ranges from $100,000 to $1 million.
  • Right-sized for any rental: The coverage kicks in whether you’re renting out your whole home or just a spare room.
  • Affordable: The average cost to add this to your ERIE policy is $40 to $60 per year. (Because coverage, limits and costs can vary, check with an ERIE agent for details.)
  • A company you trust: Customers have been putting their faith in ERIE to protect what matters most to them since 1925. (Find out more about what makes ERIE different.)

Request a Quote

For many people, their home is their most valuable asset. Our job is to help them protect it. If you’re ready to be a superhost, request a quote from an Erie Insurance agent to find the best insurance options for you.

*Not available in Virginia or North Carolina

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.