Car sharing services like Zipcar and U Car Share have grown in popularity, as more city dwellers eschew car ownership, preferring to rent a vehicle when they need one. This seems to be an innovative, cost-effective and sensible way to solve personal transportation needs for many Americans.
We have followed this trend for several years, providing insurance advice about using a car share service, and cautioning our clients to protect themselves first. After all, when you’re sharing a vehicle, you could potentially be sharing something much more important: liability.
The car sharing idea has evolved even further. Now, private vehicle owners can offer their vehicles for rent through peer-to-peer car sharing services like RelayRides. It’s sort of like Zipcar in reverse: you can rent your idle vehicle to someone who needs it temporarily. Realizing that insurance companies would not approve of (or cover) this kind of use, RelayRides offers a $1 million liability policy. That’s more liability coverage than most people have on their own personal auto policies. But believe it or not, it may not be enough.
Take the case of Massachusetts resident Liz Fong-Jones, a 24-year-old MIT grad and Google alum. Ms. Fong-Jones shared her car through RelayRides. The driver was killed in a tragic accident, and 3 passengers were critically injured. Suddenly, $1 million may not be enough insurance. If the accident damages exceed that, who will be responsible? Probably not Ms. Fong-Jones’ insurer; personal auto policies exclude such behavior.
Will that leave Ms. Fong-Jones’ assets and future earnings vulnerable to lawsuit? That remains to be seen. But, it is another cautionary tale about using car share services. This is just the scenario we were worried about with our original posts 3 years ago.
If you have questions about insurance for renting a car for business or personal use, or would like to know more about how car sharing affects your Maine auto insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541.
If you’ve recently moved to Maine or bought a car, you’ll need to register your vehicle in Maine. Before you can do that, you’ll need to provide proof of Maine auto insurance and pay excise tax at your local city or town hall.
It takes a little time, but it’s not a very complicated process.
1) Buy Maine Auto Insurance – Maine law requires you to carry at least minimal liability insurance. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, you’ll also need to buy physical damage coverage (commonly called “comprehensive and collision”).If you have moved to Maine, you will need to insure your car here in order to register it here. If you live in Southern Maine, you can get up to 5 Maine auto insurance quotes at once on our web site, or simply call us for a quote. If you have a Maine commercial vehicle, insurance is still required. Call Noyes Hall & Allen for a business auto insurance quote.
Your insurance company or agent will provide you with an insurance card. You’ll need to bring that to…
2. Pay Maine Excise Tax at your local city or town hall. Most municipalities accept faxed or emailed insurance cards if you forget yours. We can also email one right to your smartphone, and you can simply show it to the person at the excise tax desk. If you’re re-registering a vehicle, you can do that at the same time at many municipal offices. If you’re registering a vehicle for the first time, though, you’ll need to….
3. Register Your Vehicle and Pick Up Your Plates at a Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles location. Generally, the fee is $35.00 a year for personal vehicles, unless you have a specialty plate. You’ll need to bring evidence that you’ve paid your excise tax and your proof of insurance.
Re-registration is usually an easy process. Simply bring your proof of insurance to your city or town hall. Many municipalities allow you to pay excise tax and registration right there – no need to go anywhere else.