Experts are warning the public to closely examine insurance policies before using ‘share economy’ services following the accidental death of a toddler on an Airbnb property.
Four-year-old Marco Seraji was killed when a timber swing set he was riding toppled over on an Airbnb property in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland last month.
As Marco’s grieving family deals with his devastating loss, the boy’s father Arastoo said at the time of interviewing that he hadn’t received any direct contact from Airbnb or the owner of the property since the tragedy.Marco Seraji was killed when a swing set toppled over on an Airbnb property. (A Current Affair)
However Airbnb has since told A Current Affair the Seraji family was contacted by a company director in the days after the tragedy, and that insurers had been engaged to assess damages.
It remains unclear exactly what insurance arrangements were in place at the property or whether the Seraji family are entitled to damages from either Airbnb or the property owner.
Marco was staying with his parents and relatives at a Maleny property, 90km north of Brisbane, which they had rented for a weekend through share economy letting platform Airbnb.
On September 22, the second day of their stay, Marco and number of other children were playing on the swing set when it toppled down a slope, striking his head and pinning him to the ground.Photos indicated the swing set was not pinned or attached to the ground. (A Current Affair)
Marco died on his way to hospital while a young girl suffered a broken arm.
“I lost my life, really,” a devastated Arastoo Seraji told A Current Affair from his Brisbane home.
Mr Seraji said he and his family had been warned about potential dangers around the holiday home, such as snakes, but not about the swing.
Photographs taken after the disaster indicate the swing set was not pinned or attached to the ground before it collapsed.Dad Arastoo Seraji said he had not been contacted by Airbnb or the property owner. (A Current Affair)
In a statement Airbnb said the company sympathised with the family and highlighted the company’s safety record at Airbnb properties.
“This is a heartbreaking tragedy. We continue to offer the family our full support during this unimaginably difficult time and are cooperating with local authorities throughout the course of their investigation,” the statement said.
But Mr Seraji said he was unsatisfied with the response and that he was considering his legal options.
“No call from owner or someone just to say sorry or anything,” he said, although he has since acknowledged he’d heard from Airbnb.Maurice Blackburn lawyer Jillian Barrett said the property owners could be liable. (A Current Affair)
“I’m really angry for that because if you have any accident on my property, I have to be responsible for that and I have to help you.”
Maurice Blackburn personal injuries lawyer Jillian Barrett said property owners could be found liable for such damages because the Aibnb letting is classed as a business.
“If a host is relying on a typical owner occupier insurance policy they may not be covered,” Ms Barret said.
“If they haven’t read the fine print – because sometimes that does exclude business – then they could be personally liable.”Experts have warned customers and providers in the share economy to be clear on their insurance obligations. (A Current Affair)
“In this particular case they (Marco’s family) would need to prove that there was something wrong with the swing set, that the host knew about it or they should have known about it and they didn’t do anything to repair or remove it.”
RACQ insurance expert Kirsty Clinton said the tragic incident highlighted the need for users of share economy services, both customers and providers, to be clear on their insurance obligations.
She said as well as Airbnb, the use of popular ride sharing and labour hire apps Uber and Airtasker carried similar potential insurance risks.
“Airbnb and Air Tasker and a lot of these new share economy style businesses do offer liability insurance but there are things they don’t include,” Ms Clinton said.
“People need to read the details, make sure they cover everything you want them to and everything you need them to. If they don’t then look into getting your own insurance liability cover to make sure that you’re protected.”