Many of you are trying out the convenience of the car rental-ish entity, Turo, which allows you to rent people’s private vehicles much in the same way that Airbnb does for houses. One of the key questions is, what if you rent a Turo car and get into a car accident and damage another car or hurt someone?
I scheduled a trip for Labor Day to San Francisco and one of my all time goals was to rent a hot car and drive the Pacific Coast Highway and the Napa and Sonomo Valleys. I got on Turo and found a perfect 2018 Black Jag F-Type convertible for a reasonable $200 a day. Throw in a few taxes etc and then you come to a buy insurance screen. Turo pretty much tells you they have no idea if your car insurance will cover you and suggests you buy a “spot” policy that covers you while driving. This policy is written by Liberty Mutual and comes in either $30,000 in liability coverage or $1,000,000 of liability coverage. The larger policy costs $81 dollars a day! Once you factor this in, the rental rate looks a lot less attractive.
I started poking around. First I checked with American Express, which normally provides coverage for property damage done to rental cars so you don’t have to buy that from Enterprise or Hertz or whatever. Nope, Amex says right on their website “we do not consider Turo to be a car rental company” and therefore their coverage does not apply.
Well, what about my personal car insurance? Will that protect me if I have a car accident? Nope, not according to State Farm. I could not find an answer on their website, so I called my broker and they called underwriting. They said that underwriting does not think your personal auto policy applies when driving a Turo vehicle. Why? Because of the way car policies are written. You have coverage for cars you rent from a car rental agency, coverage for cars you borrow or own. This falls between the cracks.
That means if you get into a crash and, God forbid, kill someone, you have no insurance past whatever you chose to buy through Turo. That is a scary way to realize you are looking at bankruptcy. Be careful out there, make no assumptions and ask lots of questions.