When a hurricane strikes a resort and travelers have to cancel their stay, who protects their vacation investment? When rowdy guests turn a flat-screen TV into tiny shards of glass, plastic and LEDs—then swear that’s how it looked when they arrived—who saves the property manager and homeowner from the $2,000 bill? It’s Kigo partner RentalGuardian.com. We recently spoke with Brady Stump, CEO and co-founder of the most advanced vacation rental insurance company today. RentalGuardian.com is the shield that thwarts the onslaught of the unexpected.
"RentalGuardian.com enables property managers to easily protect their rentals, reduce their risk and upsell bookings, all while earning additional revenue. And it's built to work with Kigo software, so we can guarantee an easy experience for property managers and guests," says Stump.
An evolution in vacation rental insurance
Before RentalGuardian.com, vacation rental insurance was not terribly sophisticated. As late as 2010, for example, vacation rental property managers would email or fax spreadsheets with the names of guests who had purchased insurance to the insurance providers. The property managers needed to check their guest logs and manually add the information to a spreadsheet. Not very 21st century. To speed things up, property managers typically went around the insurance companies and required guests to pay a refundable security deposit of $1,000 or more, or to accept a credit hold.
Vacationers faced additional hurdles. Existing insurance providers would only send paper pamphlets to interested travelers. There was no website. This created a credibility problem with travelers. "Is it a scam?" they wondered. And without online presence, there was no online claims ability. Instead, travelers with claims had to call the underwriter, who had to check the spreadsheet to confirm that they had insurance. Unfortunately, if the vacation rental manager had not yet sent in the updated spreadsheet, the underwriter would be forced to tell travelers, "You have no coverage!" Guests panicked.
Innovations in underwriting
"The industry was ripe for disruption," Brady Stump explains. "You needed world-class underwriters. And you needed the right technology to facilitate transactions. We made it happen. Our underwriters now include Lloyds of London, Nationwide Mutual and even Berkshire Hathaway! Nationwide is typically known for auto, home and life insurance. But they entered the vacation rental market and partnered with RentalGuardian.com specifically because of our software."
So, what does RentalGuardian.com do to take vacation rental property insurance to the next level?
"Everything," says Brady. "The property manager can get started at no cost, and guest bookings are immediately integrated into their Kigo dashboard. When a guest selects one or more of our insurance products, it immediately shows up in the dashboard as check boxes. No more spreadsheets with manual entry into guest logs."
"And Kigo makes it easy for the guest to add our products to the reservation," he continues. RentalGuardian.com takes the information directly from Kigo as soon as they open a policy, and sends a coverage verification letter to the guest. They know they're covered right away."
Guests can opt in for Rental Guardian Travel Insurance and Cancel for Any Reason insurance products. If there’s a family emergency or hurricane, they can cancel the trip and protect their vacation investment.
Protection for vacation rental management companies
It also helps the property manager. "We've seen travelers sue property managers if a hurricane forces them to cancel. We're protecting their earned revenue in case of a dispute," says Stump.
Guests must accept the mandatory Rental Damage Protection, which also works through Kigo. Instead of paying those refundable thousand-dollar security deposits or dealing with credit card holds, they just pay a non-refundable fee of $59 or $79, depending on the level of insurance and location.
Damage Protection is a must these days. 99% of the time, guests won't admit they broke something. When property managers call a credit card company to get that hold, the credit card companies usually side with the guest. And if the guest has to pay $200 or $1000 for a broken chairs or TV, they typically write a bad review. With RentalGuardian.com, the insurance company can reimburse the vacation property rental managers and homeowners for the loss, and prevent a bad review for something that's not their fault.
Simplified business processes
Unlike many of the company's competitors, RentalGuardian.com doesn't require property managers to pay upfront for damage protection. This reduces accounting complexities and allows VRs to easily reconcile their accounts online. Plus, they receive referral fees from the insurance underwriters for every coverage issued, so they can earn additional revenue.
“All in all, we’re offering a whole new level of protection for travelers, property managers and homeowners through our software and insurance partners,” says Stump.
Sound like the future? Yes. And, as those people from the future say on Star Trek, "Shields up!"