Car sharing services like Zipcar and Car2Go allow city dwellers to forego car ownership without losing all of the perks. You can skip out on car insurance and repair costs, but still be able to hop into a car when you decide to take a quick jaunt to a friend’s house or to the grocery store and have all those bags to carry. Easy breezy, wind-in-your-hair freedom, right? Until you rear-end someone and have absolutely. no. clue. what to do next. What do you do if you crash a Zipcar or Car2Go?
The Official Policies
All of the main car sharing companies provide their members with insurance that covers you while you’re driving their cars. Each of them has different guidelines on how they handle it when a car is damaged while customers use it.
Zipcar provides insurance for members “who comply with the membership contract” of up to $25,000 for property damage and $300,000 for bodily damage (up to $100,000 per person). But they will charge you a $1,000 damage fee per incident, unless you choose to pay the damage waiver fee they offer in advance of the accident.
Car2Go provides insurance that covers members who use their cars for the legal state minimum liability (what protects the other driver in an accident you cause) up to $300,000 – as long as the driver has followed all of their rules. Car2Go charges a $1 Driver Protection fee for each ride in order to keep the deductible low for drivers, so you shouldn’t have to pay any more than $250 in the face of an accident (though technically could pay “between $0 and $1,000” if found at fault).
Unlike Car2Go and Zipcar, Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. People who don’t use their cars that often rent them out to earn some extra cash. They have different protection service packages drivers can choose at the time they rent the car, so the consequences you’ll face if you get into an accident are partially up to you.
Here’s their breakdown of what you’ll pay after an accident based on the package you choose:
- Premium Package – $500
- Basic Package – $500-$3,000
- No package – $500-$3,000 (ultimate assessed costs can be up to the full value of the car, plus related costs)
In all three cases, they’ll charge you $500 before the damage is assessed, but refund you the difference if the cost is less than that.
Big note: If your own car insurance covers your use of rental cars, then you may not need their protection packages. But that’s a good thing to double-check before you decide. If you decline protection coverage, you could be responsible for the full cost of damages.
Like Turo, Getaround lets people rent cars from other people not currently using them. Their insurance policy is a bit simpler though. They insure all renters for up to $1 million. For most cars, there’s a $1,000 damage fee for each collision, but that jumps up to $2,500 for cars worth over $80,000.
All of these companies stress the importance of reporting any damages right away (well, after checking if anyone is hurt and calling the police). Whether or not the company encourages it (most will), it’s smart to give a shared car a close look-over before you start driving it so you won’t be held responsible by any damages caused by previous drivers.
3 Times Car Sharing Insurance Doesn’t Cut It
In most cases, these policies will go a long way in keeping you from facing high costs after an accident, but they don’t necessarily let you off scot-free. What do you need to know?
1.If your accident causes damages that exceed the cost their insurance covers, then you could still be left owing a lot.
2.If the car sharing company determines that you were not following the rules of their memberships agreement at the time of the accident, you won’t get the benefit of that insurance coverage – if anything.
- On top of that, a wreck in a shared car can cost you more in future car insurance costs if the insurance company that handles it files a claim that shows up on your CLUE report.
“If your current personal car insurance company sees an at-fault accident on your CLUE report, they might raise your rates,” The Zebra’s licensed insurance agent Ava Lynch explains. “It is not as likely that they’d check your CLUE report once you’re an existing customer, but when you want to check your rates or find a better rate elsewhere, your accident could follow you for 3-5 years after the incident.”
So while you’re mostly covered in a worst-case scenario, it’s still important to drive at least as carefully in a shared car as you would your own. The insurance your car sharing company offers will keep the consequences of a wreck from being catastrophic, but it won’t mean you don’t face any consequences at all.