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Here's when Airbnb will actually issue a refund, according to its updated policy

Lauren Edmonds   

Here's when Airbnb will actually issue a refund, according to its updated policy
  • Airbnb's new cancellation and refund policy will go into effect starting June 6.
  • The new policy offers cancellations and refunds to guests when they face "unexpected major events."

Airbnb is updating its cancellation and refund policy to include "unexpected major events" like natural disasters.

The US-based vacation rental company announced the update on Thursday in an online press release. The Major Disruptive Events Policy — formerly called the Extenuating Circumstances Policy — will go into effect on June 6.

The new policy will include "declared public health emergencies and epidemics," but that does not include endemic diseases like the flu or COVID-19.

It will also cover government-issued travel restrictions, major essential utility outages, military actions, and natural disasters.

Although Airbnb does cover natural disasters, it notes that "weather or natural conditions that are common enough to be foreseeable in a given location — for example, hurricanes occurring during hurricane season in Florida — are covered only when they result in another Event covered by this Policy that prevents completion of the reservation, such as a mandatory evacuation order or large-scale outage of essential utilities."

Airbnb added that its new policy will allow guests to cancel reservations mid-trip if they stem from one of the identified coverage points. Guests will receive a refund for nights they didn't stay at the rental without fees, while hosts will bypass consequences.

Regarding hosts, Airbnb's policy will ask they cancel guest reservations without additional fees if the rental is "uninhabitable." Additionally, the policy will allow hosts to cancel reservations without any fees or consequences.

There are also certain things the policy doesn't cover, including unexpected illnesses and jury duty. Since the cancellation and refund policy doesn't cover all emergencies, Airbnb urges guests to invest in travel insurance.

"The changes to this policy, including its new name, were made to create clarity for our guests and Hosts and ensure it's meeting the diverse needs of our global community," said Juniper Downs, the Global Head of Community Policy and Partnerships, in the press release. "Our aim was to clearly explain when the policy applies to a reservation, and to deliver fair and consistent outcomes for our users. These updates also bring the policy in line with industry standards."

Representatives for Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Airbnb's cancellation and refund policy update comes after it banned indoor security cameras this month. Hosts were previously allowed to use indoor cameras if disclosed in the property's online listing, but the ban — which starts April 30 — will affect rentals worldwide.

Indoor security cameras were a contested topic between hosts and guests. While hosts said they installed cameras to protect their properties, some vacationers voiced surveillance concerns.

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