Hotel Room Theft
We had valuables stolen from our hotel room over spring break. Is the hotel liable? – Rodney, Cordova, AL
In ancient Babylon, the King ordered death for innkeepers whose negligence caused inconvenience or injury to travelers. That was a little extreme.
Most U.S. states today have “innkeeper laws”, largely based on English common law dating to the 1700s. Innkeeper laws limit hotels’ liability in situations such as thefts from rooms, damage to cars in parking facilities and injuries to guests. In Alabama, for example, a hotel is liable for losses to personal property not to exceed the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000) in the aggregate.
Hotel liability is even limited for theft from the in-room safe. Your hotel booking documents should contain terms and conditions that detail what the hotel will and will not cover in terms of theft.
While guests may suspect the housekeeping staff, hotels with electronic keys can use a device to read the memory of the keycard lock to review whether and when any housekeeper’s keys have been used.
Does Travel Insurance Cover Theft from Hotel Rooms?
Hotels generally do not carry insurance policies that cover theft of guests’ personal belongings. After all, hotels don’t know and don’t want to ask all of their guests to itemize valuable belongings. It’s one reason travelers should always consider purchasing their own travel insurance policy.
Almost all travel insurance policies come with personal baggage and valuables coverage. For people who are traveling with the usual basics like a camera, cell phone, and laptop, basic coverage should suffice if anything gets lost, damaged, or stolen. If you are traveling with particularly valuable items, you should read the policy terms to see how much single items are insured up to, and make sure it covers the price of what you paid for the item.
If you do need to make a claim for a valuable item stolen from your hotel room, have proof of purchase ready for the travel insurance company. If you don’t have receipts, take photos of the items with the serial numbers clearly visible before you travel.
Tips for Keeping Valuables Safe in Your Hotel Room
If your room does not have a safe, ask if the front desk will place your valuable items in another safe. Most hotels maintain a safe near the front desk. No room safe? Place valuables in your suitcase and lock it. You may even be able to lock your suitcase to furniture in the room. If your laptop the most valuable item in your hotel room? You can use a laptop cable lock to lock it to something that can’t be moved.
The accident and injury lawyers at Nelson, Bryan & Cross represent clients in most areas including Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death Cases, Personal Injury Actions, Social Security Disability, Defective Products, Insurance Disputes and Bad Faith, Fire Loss cases, Trucking Accidents, Worker’s Compensation, Drug Recalls, Employment Law and Property Damage Claims. Call 387-7777 for a free consultation.