Growing home-swap industry struggles to get insured

It turns out the questionable legality of short-term rentals in New York City is only part of the problem for start-ups that capitalize on demand from those looking to save on vacations. According to Bloomberg News, finding insurance companies to cover the properties is nearly impossible.

For example, London-based Love Home Swap, whose founder describes the site as “online dating for homes,” has more than 5,500 people in 95 countries posting their homes online looking to swap them for a period. But she’s only been able to find an insurance company willing to cover residences in Europe. Two-thirds of her site’s users will need to arranger their own, or eschew it altogether.

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One reason it’s so difficult for these businesses to get coverage, according to some within the insurance industry, is that middle-aged executives have trouble grasping concepts that appeal mostly to a younger generation. The fact that it takes a combination of traditional coverage policies to insure these types of businesses makes matters worse.

Airbnb, for one, got coverage from Lloyd’s of London, which came in handy when a San Francisco customer’s apartment was vandalized — one of the few such experiences among the more than 10 million bookings made through the site since its launch in 2008. [Bloomberg]