A four-year-old boy tragically died in a swing set accident at a Queensland Airbnb last weekend – and Workplace Health and Safety has since started an investigation.
The swing set at the Sunshine Coast hinterland property toppled over and landed on the young boy while he was playing, causing him serious head injuries. He was rushed to Maleny Hospital but died a short while later.
Airbnb has told the ABC in a statement that it has offered any assistance they can to Queensland police and are ‘deeply saddened’ by what happened.
Workplace Health and Safety is looking further into the little boy’s death because an Airbnb is technically a business – and the investigation has raised valid questions about who’s responsible when things go wrong at an Airbnb.
For example, regular insurance would very rarely cover Airbnb guests – and if Airbnb hosts want it to, they must notify their insurance company first, both to protect their guests and their home.
RACQ insurance spokesperson Kirsty Clinton told the ABC that insurance-wise, turning your home into an Airbnb can be tricky.
“If there’s a storm, if there’s a cyclone, if there’s a fire — these things are covered if you’re an Airbnb,” she said.
“What isn’t covered is the legal liability portion of the home and contents insurance if you’re running a business at the home. This is the bit that offers compensation for death and injury, or loss of damage to someone’s property when they’re staying there.”
Principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, Alison Barrett, added that if hosts fail to notify their insurance company, their property may be unprotected.
“It does depend on the precise terms of the policy, but generally it won’t be covered unless they’ve actually provided their insurer with that notice,” she told the ABC.
Airbnb does provide free Host Protection Insurance, which gives hosts up to $US1 million in cover “in the event of a third-party claim of bodily injury or property damage” during an Airbnb stay.
This covers any number of guest injuries but doesn’t include property issues like mould or bedbugs, or any damage or injuries that aren’t accidental.
However, Barrett reiterated that anyone using an Airbnb should watch out for the fine print.
“That insurance would generally only kick in when the host or the landlord has been at fault or been negligent for the circumstances of the injury,” she told the ABC.
“For this particular [swing set] case, for example, you would need to prove that the owner of the property was aware or should have been aware that the swing posed a risk to children who used it — and in light of that knowledge, that they then failed to repair the swing or to maintain it or to remove it.
“If this was a tragic accident that was no one’s fault, there will be no compensation payable to the family.”