We are excited to announce Safely as an official partner for our Kigo clients! Learn more about short-term rental protection in our Q&A with Andrew Bate, Founder, and CEO of Safely.
Tell us a bit about Safely
Founded in 2015, Safely is the premier short-term rental provider, offering proprietary guest screening and comprehensive insurance coverage. Our tech-enabled solution protects properties through tailored, comprehensive insurance for vacation rentals and guest screening based on analytics.
Renting a property as a vacation home to someone from the internet can make owners understandably anxious. I started Safely to give owners and property managers peace of mind about letting an internet stranger into their homes. The idea for the company started after speaking to a friend who left his second home empty for most of the year due to such concerns. Safely is here to address the unique risk posed by short-term rental stays - to give owners and property managers a gold-standard protection solution.
Today we offer three products: Guest screening, Damage and Bodily Injury Insurance, and Travel Insurance.
Why should Property Managers be using vacation rental protection now more than ever?
Even before the pandemic, trust, and safety were two of the most important factors that homeowners worried about when renting out their properties. Having effective guest screening and insurance in place is a significant component of overcoming these fears. As travel restrictions continue to ease and short-term rentals ramp up again in a post-pandemic world, managers, and owners are faced with new challenges - increased fraud, catastrophic events, and more. It’s more critical than ever that owners and managers feel confident that their properties are protected - no matter what happens.
With that in mind, how can Safely help?
To provide assurance to our customers, we developed a product suite that addresses the screening and insurance gaps in vacation home rentals. Not only does this give confidence to individual hosts and owners, but also serves as a differentiation point for property managers to help them recruit and retain homeowners. We answer homeowners’ most pressing questions: (1) who is staying in my home, and (2) what happens when something goes wrong? As soon as a reservation is booked through an OTA listing or direct booking site, we begin our guest screening process, using criminal background checks, data analytics, and Safely’s database of guests who have broken house rules and trashed homes. When we see a red flag, we give property managers and owners the ability to eliminate the worst guests legally and objectively. During a stay, properties, and owners are protected with up to $1,000,000 of Safely’s primary damage and bodily injury liability insurance.
Safely is very easy to use. It takes ten minutes to protect your homeowners’ property:
- Connect your Kigo account with Safely
- Add the guest-paid Safely fee to your listings
- Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are covered!
We know that claims don’t happen with every reservation - in fact, only 3% do. However, when claims do happen, they often cost more than self-insurance will cover. If a property manager has a claim, the process is quick and painless, taking only 5 minutes. Better yet, we pay claims quickly; 80% of claims are paid within 3 days, meaning the property manager is able to move on and get back in business faster than ever.
What was the biggest adaptation you saw from property managers and the short-term rental industry in the wake of COVID-19??
The past few years have certainly tested the industry but, overall, property managers have proven to be a resilient group who are constantly looking for ways to adapt and evolve. Their determination is inspiring.
But, with the rise in concern for high-traffic or populated areas, many guests now prefer vacation rentals over hotels. While this is great news for our industry, the challenge is that they expect the same amenities, service, and safety that they find in hotels. It’s important for short-term rental managers to do everything possible to create a seamless experience for their guests while limiting contact with others. Guest screening and remote locks allow a certain level of autonomy for the guest and peace of mind for owners and managers.
With the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, more guests and owners are looking for ways to protect themselves from other events. Adding travel insurance as an option to bookings will increase conversion rates and protect your revenue when a guest needs to cancel.
What adaptations to Safely’s protection products have you made as a result of the changing landscape of vacation rentals?
First, we introduced travel insurance as part of our offerings. We want to make sure that our customers are protected in almost any situation. Travel insurance helps property managers and homeowners protect their revenue by not having to give refunds to guests who cancel outside of the cancellation window.
We also noticed significant changes to the length of stays requested. Remote work and testing requirements resulted in more stays that are 30-90 nights. We’ve adjusted our policies to include longer stays when needed.
Additionally, we’ve made the decision to include bed bug coverage with certain policies. This has been a growing problem for the industry and we’re thrilled to provide a solution.
Any top tips for property managers who want to use Safely?
To mitigate risk, it’s crucial to be informed about the level of guest screening and the damage protection provided by OTAs - especially since these things can change at any time. The nuance of the language in each policy can have a huge impact on your bottom line and your reputation. If you’re relying solely on OTA coverage or self-insurancing when something catastrophic happens, your business will be severely impacted. Make sure that you have the right, tailored, and comprehensive protection in place. We can help you here!
Also, remember that federal regulations and rules are constantly evolving. You need to stay aware of fair housing, credit reporting, and discrimination policies that may affect your business. That’s one of the main reasons we encourage managers and owners to leverage third-party guest screening rather than performing their own social media investigations. Turning down a reservation based on subjective findings can open the door to unwanted legal ramifications. Safely checks a wide range of national and international databases to alert you to potential bad guests. And, because we’re completely compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can cancel reservations without fear of repercussions.
Any 2022 advice or recommendations for our property manager community out there?
The key piece of advice we can give is to keep yourself educated on the different solutions out there. Vacation rental protection should be an integral part of your growth strategy. But insurance and guest screening are not one-size-fits-all solutions, so you need to do your research and find what’s right for your business and your homeowners.
Continue to solicit feedback from guests and owners so that you can find new, innovative solutions to differentiate your business. Automated solutions, smart homes, and advanced screening - are great examples of ways to elevate your brand and scale your growth.
Also, look for partnerships that fill the gaps in what your team can manage. Strategic partnerships like those with Safely and Kigo free your team’s time up so they can focus on creating better owner and guest experiences.
How can I get started with Safely?
Contact your Kigo Account Manager or email us at AM@kigo.net, and we will get you up and running!