Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance and online hospitality service Airbnb are teaming up to provide services meant to mitigate problems with home sharing in Japan, where many residents worry about problems with guests. This will be the first collaboration with a Japanese insurer for the US-based tech company.
The two companies will jointly develop insurance products. Airbnb currently offers universal compensation insurance to all hosts, but Sompo Japan hopes to use the platform's knowledge to develop more specialised policies.
As part of the partnership, Sompo Holdings unit Prime Assistance will operate a 24-hour call centre for Airbnb hosts and guests to respond to complaints about problems with their rooms, noise and garbage. Service personnel will be dispatched if necessary to prevent any situations from worsening, reported The Nikkei.
This service is already being tested in some areas before it is scaled up. Starting in January, the call centre will also provide directions to properties for guests.
Home sharing is expected to grow in Japan after legislation freeing this business from Japan's hotel law restrictions takes effect in June. Motivated by public concerns, local governments are adding their own regulations on top of the national home-sharing law, which imposes a cap of 180 days a year on such home rentals. Nearly half of Tokyo's 23 wards have proposed home-sharing regulations. The northern island of Hokkaido and the old capital of Kyoto plan to establish their own rules as well.
Despite their misgivings, local authorities and groups are looking to work with Airbnb to relieve shortages of lodgings, make use of empty homes and support renovation of traditional Japanese houses. Sompo Japan has also concluded agreements with 84 local authorities for such regional revitalisation projects.