Questions about who pays after fire at a property used as an Airbnb

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Thousands of tourists come to the Hostess City every year and they look for accommodations that include hotels and now more Airbnb properties. That was the case for Valerie Malick and a group of friends that came to Savannah last month for a vacation. “Three of the girls that were in our group had birthdays so we were celebrating all their birthdays. It was just going to be a fun vacation which would include going to Tybee Beach.”

And it started out fine on Friday night when they arrived, but Saturday morning the vacation hit a low point when the Airbnb where Malick and her friends were staying was destroyed by fire. “We came back to see our townhouse completely engulfed in flames and watching all our belongings burn.”

One of the things that burned was Malick’s 2018 Ford Escape.

“I’m using Airbnb thinking that you know, they’ll obviously help cover something like this,” she told me.

However, she says after being contacted a third party insurer (used by Airbnb) that she was told she should go through her own auto insurance company. Malick said she did but “ended up taking a loss because they didn’t really pay me what my 2018 vehicle was worth.”

Malick says she and her friends (who lost laptops and jewelry) have still pursued claims through the third party company. “But they have now pushed us off shoved us off to another insurance company,” she told us.

She says the group has been advised to sue the company that insured the home where the fire started. “They’re telling us to do all the legwork and telling us to reach out to different insurance companies and figure it out for ourselves,” she said.

She did acknowledge it has been just about a month since the fire happened. “A month isn’t very long but I would expect some support or someone from Airbnb personally to assure us that it’s being taken care of not just telling us to go through their insurance company whose telling us to go through another company,” said Malick. “If you have a fire or burglary or something, it doesn’t seem like Airbnb is going to have your back.”

We emailed Airbnb and got a different assessment from them.

In a statement they said:

“We sympathize with our host and guests who were impacted by the unfortunate incident at the home next door, and are supporting them as the cause of the fire in the neighboring property is reviewed by that property owner’s insurance company.”

Airbnb did confirm that “the claim associated with this reservation is being handled by the insurance company and third-party claims administrator. They will be providing updates to the host and guests on the claims process.”

The company also said that the booking guest (Malick) has been refunded in full for this reservation.

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