Customers are very important to hotel operators. Once in a hotel, the operator is responsible for the safety of guests and the experience of the customer also says a lot about a hotel. One of the worst things that can happen is if the hotel has nothing in place to cover for theft or damages to guest property.
It is important that they have some type of insurance in place to cover for theft or damages to guests property in circumstances where the hotel is held liable.
Hotel operators can purchase what is called Innkeeper’s Liability. This type of insurance covers the hotel operator for liability that might arise from their responsibility for the safety of the guests’ property.
For clarity, let us look at a few scenarios where the issue of liability in this case might arise:
A guest returns to their hotel room and realized that their belongings were stolen by a hotel cleaner, who seem to have disappeared and is no where to be found. The hotel might be held liable; the cleaner is employed by the hotel and so the hotel is responsible for the cleaner’s actions under what is called "vicarious liability."
In another situation, (know as "bailment") liability could also apply. Let us say a guest got to the hotel earlier than their check in time, then asked the hotel if they could look after his luggage until his check in time. THe hotel is holding the luggage "in bail." If, during the time the hotel was looking after his property, it got stolen, the hotel might be held liable.
In the third scenario, a guest got to the hotel prior to checking in and decided to leave his luggage at the entrance of the hotel to quickly go and grab coffee. If he returns to find that the luggage was stolen, the hotel might not be held liable in this case.
These been said, always keep in mind that there must be proof that a hotel is negligent for the hotel to be held liable for theft or damages to guest property.
Laws regarding innkeeper liability vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but despite those signs claiming no responsibility for lost or stolen goods, most hotels do carry some sort of liability insurance that covers damage, loss, or theft of customer property while on premises and in the custody or control of the hotel.