Replace Extenuating Circumstances policy with Trip Insurance

Status changed to: Under Consideration

We all understand the kinds of life events that can prevent travel. Rather than upsetting guests over non-refundable trips, Airbnb has shifted 100% of the financial loss to hosts by way of the extenuating circumstances policy. Why do guests not have some skin in the game when an issue arises on their end?


This isn't a fair practice. We choose our cancellation policies based on our market, personal economics, and degree of risk aversion. The extenuating circumstances policy creates a loophole over which hosts have no control.


If Airbnb is unable to offer trip insurance, they should allow hosts to choose two cancellation policies: One that applies for regular cancellations (currently implemented), and one that applies to extenuating circumstances (eg. no refund, 50%, full refund).


Response from Airbnb

Thanks for your feedback. It’s helping us understand how the Extenuating Circumstances Policy is affecting hosts. We agree that this issue is important and we’ve been taking a close look at multiple options to address it. While we’re not able to offer trip insurance at this time, we’re hoping to explore it as a possibility in the future. In the meantime, we’re collecting as much feedback as possible.


San Diego, CA
Level 10

I'm going to jump in on this one:  If y'all think that travelers insurance is a good option, fine, but you do realize that 'we' as a community are asking AirBnB to take a new level of responsibility (that includes the physical job of handling all of this stuff.)  It IS going to end up costing everyone in some way. 


And the really sad truth is that, even in the insurance world, if something big enough, bad enough, happens fast enough, nothing can be done except deal with it.  There just isn't enough money in the world, and insurance companies use the ACT OF GOD line all the time.


The hard truth is that there are NO GUARANTEES in life except that at some point you will die.


I used to hate the expression "s&%t happens" but it is true, and when it does, you've either done your best to plan for the unexpected, or you just deal with it with as much grace as you can.


Be kind.

Berkeley, CA
Level 3

There is no reason that the hosts should bear all the financial loss in the case of the extenuating circumstances. There was a commitment made by both guest and host, and if things go wrong (extenuating circumstances) that are the fault of neither party, then they should both share in the cost of those circumstances. If the guest can purchase trip insurance, so much the better. That makes it clear that they are assumintg some risk as well, if they choose not to buy such insurance.

Berkeley, CA
Level 3

FYI - folks. there are lots of airbnb shills on these boards. Folks who pretend to be just regular hosts, but are obviously been paid in some form by airbnb to defend all its policies and positions, regardless of their merit. 


I posted this already, but the post was deleted by airbnb. I expect they will delete this one as well!

Hermosa Beach, CA
Level 1

Completely and absolutely agree with this! No protection for the hosts in this loophole. We are Airbnb customers, they are our service provider and this practice of not honoring Hosts cancellation policy is completley unethical company practice. Airbnb needs to insure for extenueting circumstances and protect their hosts.

Black River, Mauritius
Level 2

@Allison2 Excellent suggestion! But unfortunately ABB will not listen and keep putting all the burden on hosts. It is so much easier for everyone...


I have been on the receiving end of my first extenuating circumstances cancellation this morning and lost Eur 1500 for a guest that had booked since April and cancelled 2 days before arrival. ABB ruled unilaterally in the guest's favour and I will now be deducted for the refund on my next payments. I have not even seen the sustaining evidence submitted by the guest!


Anyway in so doing they make us look like crap. We spend a lot of time thinking about filling our policies but at the end ABB can still do what they want and it is always in favour of the guest.

Tampa, FL
Level 4

As a host, the Extenuating Circumstances Policy awful.  Echo what everyone has said.  I had a guest cancel 2 days prior to arrival due to an injury to her child.  My policy is if you cancel less than a week before the stay, you pay for the first night.  Parties are aware of this contract prior to booking.  I cannot re-rent the space when someone cancels with such short notice, and demand is high in my area, so I am loosing out 100% from this cancellation because my calendar was available for guests to book on these dates because my guest had it blocked.  I do not care what a guests excuse is, because it could be legitimate or not, and it is not within my desire or ability to judge the truth of the matter.  Thus, if you cancel less than a week before the stay, regardless of reason, you pay for the first night.  Some major hotels have strict cancellation policies on certain dates, and charge a premium to include a cancellaiton policy.  You choose up front which contract you prefer, pay less and get no cancellation options, or pay more and get cancellation options.  Extenuating Circumstances Policy is not something I agree with, nor negotiated for.  AirBnB needs both hosts and guests, and they should be treating us equally.  I have found the company to be increasingly less and less host-friendly.  Perhaps it's time a new company to create a similar service that represents hosts more favorably.  

Zurich, Switzerland
Level 1

I completely agree. We've just had someone cancel on us one day before New Years because of a SPRAINED ANKLE. First, I cannot get over the fact that this was accepted by Airbnb as extenuating circumstances, and second of all, this is where trip insurance falls into place (which almost everybody here in Switzerland has, anyway). So I am more than annoyed. 


Please change this, Airbnb! 



Philadelphia, PA
Level 2

I encountered the Extenuating Circumstances Policy last week for the first time.  It was a 5 night stay, strict cancellation policy.


Night 1: The guest's flight was cancelled and they let me know that they would be on a flight the next day and would arrive at my place then. They did not cancel their reservation or modify it to remove the day. My place remained vacant, I could not rent my place again because their reservation was still current and active despite them not physically having arrived.


Night 2: Same problem. Flight cancelled, book on a flight the next day and plan to arrive at my place then. Again, the guest did not cancel or modify the reservation and my place remained vacant. 


Day 3: Guest notifies me that they can now no longer get a flight that will get them to my city until after an important meeting. They will cancel and they plan to use the extenuating circumstances policy to get their money back. They indicate that they think Airbnb will pay them and that I keep the money.

I inform them that it's my understanding that Airbnb will in fact take the money from me.

The guest filed a claim and Airbnb honored the claim and notified me that I would receive nothing for the guest's booking.


I replied and explained the situation that the guest continued to keep their reservation, did not cancel or alter it for two days.

It's one thing to offer a refund prior to check-in or for an early check-out. But in my case, Airbnb even refunded what amounted to two nights of the guest wholly and exclusviely keeping rights to my apt, which I could not list or rent out to anyone else.

This policy is economic madness. It is grossly unfair to hosts.


How can Airbnb make it better?

1. Get rid of the policy and sell trip delay and cancellation insurance like every other major travel provider. This one is my preferred resolution.

2. Continue to keep their generous policy but take it out of Airbnb's wallet...not hosts.

3. Continue to keep the extenuating circumstances policy, but allow hosts to opt out. (In fact, I think us hosts who use a Strict cancellation policy are already indicating our desire not to be responsible for other peoples changes in plans or misfortunes).

4. Update the policy to address sitations like I was in. How can a guest be refunded for days that amount to days stayed at the guests request? This is truly silly and I suspect Airbnb has not fully thought through the complicated scenarios that can happen.

Savannah, GA
Level 2

Agreed!  As a host, since the extenuating circumstances policy rolled out I have been left to pay for what should be a guest responsibility through insurance on multiple occasions.  A simple solution would be to offer trip insurance.  


As for charging a higher fee for strict cancellation to hosts... that's ridiculous. We (hosts) often only have one room offered and people book well in advance, so it's very hard to rebook a room last minute of not impossible. Airbnb should charge guests a higher fee for felixble cancellation and lower fee for strict (like most hotel rate offers) if they are set on adding fees.  Or better yet leave as is.

Rhode Island, United States
Level 1

I agree 100% since hosts are at great risk for no fault of their own.  Guests are fully protected and airbnb gets their fees.  Only hosts lose with current policy.

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