Peer to Peer Car Sharing
The idea of sharing our cars with a complete stranger may sound a little frightening to some, but it’s happening all over the nation as more folks look at the ownership of a car as an investment that doesn’t have to sit idle when it’s not being used. People who don’t really need a car on a regular basis are turning to car sharing programs such as Getaround, Zipcar, and RelayRides in order to fulfill their requirements for transportation on those infrequent occasions they need it. Both parties seem to benefit from the exchange. The renter earns extra income on a car they are not using; some report as much as $800.00 a month, while the person who rents the vehicle, can rent for as little as $3.00 an hour. With programs like Getaround, they do not have to pay for all the expenses encountered from owning a car.
All the programs currently require a smart device or iPhone in order to access the vehicle. A spare key is hidden inside for the driver to start the car. RelayRides uses cars equipped with OnStar and a smartphone to unlock the vehicle. Zipcar uses a proprietary card to gain access to its cars. The card is obtained after enrolling in a membership program through its web site. Zipcar is available in most major city centers in 36 states. RelayRides is available nationwide with 20,000 plus members. Getaround is currently available in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area (including Mountain View, Palo Alto and Berkeley). It is also available in Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas, and in limited areas of San Diego.
Insurance is included in the price of the rental, and several states like Oregon, California and Washington have passed new legislation governing the insurance requirements for the use of peer to peer vehicles. Most insurers prohibit people from using their cars for commercial purposes. These bills allow owners to rent out their vehicles without the worry of their insurance being cancelled. The insurance industry’s main concern is that the insurance of car-sharing operators will fully cover any damage to the vehicle when it's being driven by someone other than the owner. The idea of car-sharing is becoming more acceptable by the auto insurance industry, as seen by the passing of legislation in these three states. The question remains vague as to how states without this legislation will view the use of car-sharing programs and the liabilities associated with it. If you are considering using a car-share program to rent out your vehicle, you should first ask you insurer if they would allow such a transaction. The answer to that question may be hard to ascertain as many insurance companies are still grappling with this issue and have no firm policy in place to satisfy its use. Although RelayRides has operated its car-share program in Massachusetts without any legislation for 2 years with no problem, it may be wise to only participate in those states that have set forth legislation to protect your rights.