Airbnb Apologizes, Rolls Out New Insurance Program for Hosts

Categories: Tech
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A new insurance policy ... now you can rest easier
Recently, we reported that Airbnb, an online service that matches travelers with hosts whose homes they can rent for brief periods, had raised more than $112 million from investors -- and now we know what the S.F. company is going to do with it.

The local startup is trying to remedy the public relations nightmare that started last week after a local woman detailed how her apartment was burglarized by an Airbnb patron while she was out of town. Yesterday, Airbnb issued an unconditional apology and says it will now will now insure offer up to $50,000 for hosts whose property is damaged by Airbnb guests.

In a blog post titled "Violated: A traveler's lost faith, a difficult lesson learned," the woman -- who refers to herself only as EJ -- details what happened while a person known to her through Airbnb as "DJ Pattrson" stayed at her San Francisco apartment while she was away. The guest broke into a locked closet and took a camera and laptop, and made photocopies of EJ's birth certificate and Social Security card.

EJ claims that Airbnb waited 14 hours before responding to her panicked phone calls. The incident made national headlines and highlighted the company's questionable security measures.

Yesterday, Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky wrote in his blog on the company's website, "We felt paralyzed, and over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up."

According to Chesky:

"There have been a lot of questions swirling around, and I would like to apologize and set the record straight in my own words. With regards to EJ, we let her down, and for that we are very sorry. We should have responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure. But we weren't prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball. Now we're dealing with the consequences. In working with the San Francisco Police Department, we are happy to say a suspect is now in custody."
Chesky then announced the company's new insurance policy and a new safety section on the site. The changes start Aug. 15.

"We've heard an uproar from people, both inside and outside our community. Know that we were closely listening," Chesky says.

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Red Lami
Red Lami

What's not clear from Airbnb's announcement is whether their guarantee will also apply to the property owners, when they are not the ones who listed the apartment (as I assume is the situation in EJ's case). 

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