Home Exchange

Guest to Guest new home swap insurance system; free exchanges ending in 2019

As of 2019 Guest to Guest will no longer offer entirely free home exchanges. The network will still be free to join, but there will be a mandatory 10€ per night fee for all exchanges. For this fee exchangers and hosts will get insurance, cancellation protection and emergency assistance.

While this sounds like a big change, Guest to Guest has long offered insurance for exchanges. And according to them, only 10% of users decline this entirely. So most swappers are paying for each exchange, probably an amount close to what this new system will cost them. The main change here is for the 10% of members who were doing house swaps without insurance. That won’t be an option any longer.

I’m of a split opinion on this. On the one hand, Guest to Guest needs to make money to keep running their home exchange network. And if they want to keep the network free to join, G2G has to come up with other ways to get generate revenue. But I really liked that my swaps on G2G could be entirely free, and I don’t need think insurance is needed for home exchanges, so for me this is a negative change.

But most free things aren’t really free. Someone has to pay for all the staff and infrastructure at Guest to Guest. At least with this system members only pay when they actually have an exchange.

Service Plus Insurance details

The new Guest to Guest insurance plan is called Service Plus. As of July 25, Guest to Guest house swappers can opt to pay 10€ per night to add on this insurance. Starting in 2019 this insurance fee will be mandatory. Service Plus provides:

  • Cancellation protection: Up to 700€ per week if Guest to Guest can’t find a replacement home swap
  • Compliance guarantee: If you swap home doesn’t match the description they will provide an alternative solution
  • Damage and theft protection: Up to 500,000€ to cover damages and theft at the host property
  • Emergency assistance: 24/7 personal assistance

In the case of accidental damage the member doing the damage still has to pay a 100€ deductible.

As an alternative to paying 10€ per night, Guest to Guest will launch a premium membership service this fall, which will include Service Plus for a year of unlimited exchanges. This will cost 130€ per year. If you anticipate doing more than 13 days of swaps in a year, this is obviously a better value.

What has changed?

Previously Guest to Guest offered several insurance options with varying levels of house swap coverage, as well as a security deposit option. This new insurance is replacing all of that. This means swappers no longer have the flexibility to choose the level of coverage they want. In the past I always asked my Guest to Guest hosts to either remove the insurance requirement or lower it to the lowest cost option. I offer my many good reviews and long history swapping as evidence that I’m not a risky guest. And they have all agreed to at least set the cost to the lowest option. In fact most didn’t even know they had selected insurance as a requirement. I’m losing this ability to negotiate down my costs. Until the end of this year I can at least ask that the insurance requirement be removed. In 2019 that won’t be an option.

Overall this is a significant simplification of insurance by Guest to Guest. That’s nice because I think the previous system was overly complicated, and the insurance and deposit were redundant. However, this new insurance offering appears to be an increase in price and a decrease in coverage for members. Paying 7€ per night previously you would get up to 700€ per week in cancellation protection and quite a lot more damage and theft protection. And in the past you could double that cancellation protection by paying 13€ per day. I don’t actually think that 500,000€ or even more is needed for damage and theft insurance for home exchange. So I’m not too concerned that this number is lower. But 700€ per week won’t pay for a decent hotel in most cities, especially for large families. So for folks really worried about cancellations this isn’t great coverage.

Overall I think Guest to Guest has an interesting business model. And this new insurance offering is a logical continuation of the previous optional insurance system. It allows Guest to Guest to maintain free membership while charging a fee for each swap, but offering something of real value in exchange for that fee: a higher level of service and security. In the end it costs money to run a home exchange business. Many G2G members are unhappy with this new insurance offering because it is mandatory. But I can’t think of another fee-based service Guest to Guest could offer that would provide value beyond the exchange itself. Even with the paid insurance, home exchange trips will still be quite a bit cheaper than any alternative lodging.

7 Comments

  • Absolutely not acceptable for those of us who have built up a large number of points on the basis as it existed. These conditions should only apply to new members or once existing points have been used. Otherwise I consider I have been giving my accomodation under false conditions.
    I intend to take this up with G to G
    I also wish the site being designated as “free” could be stopped.
    This will under the new rules become by far the most expensive site for all but those exchanging for 10 days or less per year.
    The new rules mean 100 euros for the ten days plus say 35 for deposit commission this is what the other principle sites charge for the total year.
    If I exchange for 6 weeks in the year their insurance alone would cost me more than my annual house insurance for the total year!
    To compare with hotels is not a valid comparison. That should be with the other leading Home exchange sites, ie Lovehomeswap, Homelink and previously Homeexchange (although now that they are owned by G to G are they going to switch to that charging method?)
    Maybe G to G will grow to be a behemoth Amazon style and we will just have to accept those charges!

    • Hi Peter, based on my calculations this will almost make G2G the most expensive network, but not quite. Still, it will certainly be among the most costly for those doing more than a few nights of exchanges. The cost is 130€ per year max, as G2G is offering that fixed price for people who will swap more than 13 nights a year. My table of all house swapping networks includes pricing info: https://sharetraveler.com/home-exchange/house-swapping-sortable-tables/. LoveHomeSwap ($240/yr) is quite a bit more expensive. HomeExchange.com ($150/yr) is now the same price. And the remainder of generalist home exchange networks with over 2000 listings cost around $100 or less per year. (There are some specialty networks that are more expensive, like those focused on vacation homes).

  • Not sure you get any max if you are exchanging for points and exchange many days with hosts that will opt to not reduce the insurance and deposit conditions. I admit I had not realised you could so I reprint below the response from G2G re my moan as it may be useful for other members who look at these threads.

    “Kate O’leary (GuestToGuest)

    The Service Plus toggle on your home listing acts the very same as the insurance mandatory / optional used to work. By setting Service Plus as “yes” on your home listing, you are requiring that any guest who comes to stay in your home pay a fee of 10 euro per night to protect your home against damages etc. If you set it to “no”, it means that upon finalization, your guest will have the option to include Service Plus or not.
    If you send a request to another member and intend to travel as a guest, you will see in the listing +/ conversation whether they have required their guests to take Service Plus or if it is optional.”

  • @peter : there will be an annual fee around 150 dollars. it will be introduced in late september. for people exchanging more than 2 times per year, like me, it will even be cheaper than before. signing up remains free anyway and you can also pay per night the 10€.

  • It is my understanding that Service Plus damage and theft protection mentioned above(Damage and theft protection: Up to 500,000€ to cover damages and theft at the host property) is a cost actually borne by the guest as they not only have to take out Service Plus for each night, but also have a 500 Euro excess.

    • This is correct Kathryn, the guest is the one who pays. Of course if you’re hosting guests I would assume you’re also looking to spend you points traveling. So this will impact everyone when they travel.

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