In the last few years, two new rental car companies have popped up over the Philadelphia area: PhillyCarShare (now EnterpriseCarShare) and Zipcar. These companies allow their members to rent cars for a short period of time, such as a trip to the movies or the grocery store. They attract people who only occasionally need to use a vehicle, or those who would prefer a different type of vehicle than their daily driver. EnterpriseCarShare and Zipcar have experienced rapid growth as more people discover the ease and efficiency of using a car sharing service. However, despite the benefits of being a member of a car sharing service, due to the structure of the companies’ insurance coverages, there could be some consequences in the event of a serious accident while using the vehicle.
Traditional Rental Car Insurance
Traditional rental car companies such as Hertz, Enterprise, and Thrifty charge anywhere between $14 and $25 per day for coverage. Additionally, it is common to be offered different types of supplemental insurance and/or damage waivers at an additional cost. These types of coverage include:
· Loss Damage Waiver – provides coverage for the cost of repairs for damage to the rental car.
· Supplemental Liability Insurance – provides coverage in the case of an accident causing injury to someone other than the renter and passengers.
· Personal Accident Insurance – covers medical costs and accidental death for both the renters and passengers as a result of an accident.
· Personal Effects Coverage – provides coverage for the renter’s personal belongings during the rental period.
Car Sharing Companies
Car sharing companies such as Zipcar offer insurance to their members with each rental, much like traditional rental car outlets. Zipcar and EnterpriseCarShare offer a combined single limit policy of $300,000 per accident for any driver that is 21 or older. This insurance covers the cost of property damage and bodily injury if the driver is found to be at fault. However, if the driver is under the age of 21, the coverage drops to the state minimum levels. Personal accident insurance is included but, again, only at the state statutory limits. These limitations could expose users to sizeable legal judgments if they get into a serious accident.
A New York Times article recommends a simpler solution: car-sharing companies should let people purchase additional insurance on a per-trip basis, as traditional car rental companies do. This would allow members to have the option of purchasing greater liability coverage, thereby better protecting themselves in the event of a serious accident while using the vehicle.
Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
While car sharing companies like ZipCar and EnterpriseCarShare offer a convenient alternative to traditional car rental services, you should be well aware of their insurance coverage limitations. If you get into an accident while using a car sharing service in Pennsylvania, it is important that you contact an experienced auto accident attorney. Contact the Pennsylvania car accident lawyers at Solnick & Associates, LLC today, or call us at (215) 481-9979.