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Warning on "sharing economy"

20 Nov 2017

Vero has issued a warning to those who rent out their cars or homes through the likes of Uber and Airbnb to check their insurance cover.

Richard Godman, Vero's manager technical underwriting, personal insurance, says the sharing economy is changing the way we use our assets and belongings - and blurring the lines of traditional insurance policies.

"The rise of platforms that allow us to rent out our personal belongings mean that people are now making money from their cars, homes, clothes and even their money."

But he said that raised questions for insurers about when something you own stopped being for personal use and started to be a commercial asset.

"For insurers, the sharing economy changes the amount of risk that assets face and makes it harder to put things into traditional commercial and personal insurance buckets."

Godman said that meant Uber drivers or those who used other paid for ride-sharing services would not be covered under a private car insurance policy.

"We have a clear exclusion for that."

Drivers will still be covered for private use but if you have an accident while carrying fee-paying passengers you won't be.

Godman said they may need to change their insurance for commercial insurance.

While that could result in a higher premium cost he said the alternative was to not be covered at all and face the full cost of replacing a vehicle or paying for damage to another person's car.

"The ramifications for not doing so would be worse than the premium increase," he said.

Godman said those who rented out a room or a whole house under Airbnb should also be careful with their insurance.

"If you have got a holiday home intentionally set aside only for short-term Airbnb's and it is not intended to be use for the owners at any stage - it will be seen as having a commercial aspect."

"It will still be covered under domestic insurance but there will be gaps."

That could mean you won't be covered for meth contamination, any gaps in rent or if there is a natural disaster.

People who rent their home or rooms out for Airbnb on an occasional basis would be covered for accidental damage but not malicious damage.

He said the best advice was to read your insurance policy wording.

"The last thing you want is a surprise at claim time."

Godman said the changes had been so quick the insurance industry was still adapting but in the future there could be hybrid policies to cover people who use their property in different ways.


 - NZ Herald

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