We realised since launching our business early this year that concept of peer-to-peer car rental is new to many people!
Sure, sharing goods between family members and close friends has always been common practice. But how exactly did the idea of sharing and earning some extra cash from an existing asset become so easily accessible for everyone?
Advancement in technology and the rise of digital have led to laborious tasks becoming automated and for anyone that’s experienced the turmoil of “unexpected item in bagging area” during the weekly grocery shop, the changes not always a welcome addition to daily life. Some positive results are increased access to free information, meaning that consumers are much more informed and rely less on traditional marketplaces and in some cases can choose to deviate from them altogether. The cost to produce goods has gone down, and with many goods and services almost “free” this has led to a boost in efficiency and individuals starting to networking with each other.
Most people aren't against the idea of the earning a little extra cash by lending someone something they already own, they just don't want the hassle of taking care of all the little details and that’s where companies like us step in! In our case, our online platform enables users to easily manage the process of renting out their car, by taking care of important things like car insurance and processing transactions safely and securely. But we aren't the only ones: Airbnb, Uber & Etsy are now all part of this new "sharing economy" enabling people to make smart financial decisions by taking advantage of the sharing an existing asset that they already own.
What's more? In the modern world, where so many people connect and communicate through social media, peer-to-peer platforms like RideLink can have a positive effect in strengthening connections we make with others. Peer-to-peer sharing "involves the re-emergence of the community," says Rachel Botsman, co-author of What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. "This works because people can trust each other." We love that our members don't have to choose between smart financial decisions, helping the environment and giving something back to their community. Now let's get to the fine details and answer the top 5 most commonly asked questions we receive about peer-to-peer car rental!
Here are your top 5 questions answered:
#1 How does peer-to-peer car rental work with Insurance?
Many people are under the assumption that making a profit from your car, also known as 'hire or reward', is illegal. And you're probably correct, usually under your normal car insurance policy you wouldn’t be able to rent your vehicle out on a peer-to-peer marketplace such as RideLink. Insurance cover for car owners and hirers was one of our first priorities as well, given that we absolutely want everyone's rental to be protected, and as safe as possible. So we've partnered with a car insurance provider to issue your vehicle with a separate policy and there's no need to change your insurance as our policy supersedes yours for the duration of the rental. The cost of this insurance cover is included in the rental price advertised.
In order for us to issue your vehicle with insurance cover, we require the car to have an existing insurance policy. Our separate insurance not only protects your car during the rental but on the very rare chance that damage occurred as a result of car rental, your no claims discount would be fully protected because any claims made would be by a separate driver on a separate insurance policy. So relax, we've got you covered.
If you’re in doubt, you can check with your insurance provider, or check for language relating to peer-to-peer car rental in your policy.
#2 What if my car gets damaged while it’s being rented out?
Another common concern for most car owners is what if their beloved pride and joy were damaged during a rental. We understand your concern and want to make the process of renting out your car as easy and as safe as possible. We already discussed in #1 how insurance protects your vehicle against any possible damages but our liability policy also protects you against lawsuits for injuries and property damages that may occur during the rental period, in addition to all other nasties like malicious damage, fire, theft and vandalism. What's important to remember is, the chance of damage is very rare because we screen all our drivers and only let the safest ones hire cars on our platform.
All drivers on our platform have their driving license verified and are screened for points and driving history electronically using the UK's new "share my license" system. For EU drivers, to double check and verify their identity with their licence, we ask for a scanned copy of their passport. We also set up a rental process which helps to keep your car safe: when you accept a booking, you'll receive 2 documents from us: the insurance policy (explained in #1) that will cover your car throughout the duration of the rental period and the rental agreement. In the rental agreement, you will receive a checklist that you should go through with the renter, noting down any existing damage to the state of the before the start of the rental. This is super important, as we often get asked how to determine whether the damage was pre-existing or new. We've designed this check-in procedure to determine any existing damage on the vehicle and avoid disputes after the rental as ended. When the renter returns the car you both then do another run through of the same checklist to confirm that the vehicle was returned in the same condition. Car owners also check the renters original driving license to confirm their identity and only proceed with the car rental if the information is identical to the details on the rental agreement. The security precautions taken by us and the check-in and check-out procedures performed by the car owner make the case of misappropriation very unlikely.
In the rare event that damage does occur due to recent rental and your car is being fixed and is off the road, we'll provide you a free car to use or money towards your own choice of transportation. Likewise, if your vehicle suffers a hiccup and experiences a mechanical failure while being hired, don't worry it will be looked after - we provide breakdown assistance with every rental!
#3 OK it all sounds good but, what about parking tickets, congestion zone charges and driving violations?
Another common misconception or fear that people have about offering their car up for peer-to-peer car rental is that a parking ticket or speeding violation will pop through their letter box detailing a hefty fine for something they didn't do. Just snap a photo and send to [email protected] we will arrange with the DVLA to ensure the driver's (and not the car owner's) record is affected and the driver pays the fine or ticket.
#4 Alright but why would someone want to rent my car when they can go just to a traditional car rental company?
We often hear this a lot, usually followed by: why don't you buy your own vehicles like traditional car rental companies? While we are not against this practice, the reason why is very simple. Our mission is to build a community that believes in making better use of existing vehicles to reduce waste, help neighbourhoods reduce their total car ownership and still providing affordable convenient access to cars when people need them.The cost of running a car in generally can be very expensive. We are hoping to help owners out with earning money to help cover some of that cost.
Our business model is closely aligned to traditional car clubs such as Zipcar or City Car Club, but instead of having a typical fleet of the same Chevy vehicles ours is an online fleet made up of vehicles from thousands of car owners in the UK. With peer-to-peer car sharing, participating car owners on our platform are able to make smart financial decisions by renting out their vehicle when they are not using it. RideLink renters can then book a vehicle that's located nearby and because car owners set their own prices, renters can often find more affordable vehicles and have the opportunity to contribute back into their community.
#5 It all sounds great but ultimately why should I trust a complete stranger with my personal property?
What's important to remember is, renters on the platform are never anonymous and the security measures we take ensure only the safest drivers are on the platform. Our rating system also keeps the community in check, similar to an eBay marketplace seller rating, renters can leave reviews for car owners and owners can let us know if a renter has treated their car inappropriately. In both cases, there are liabilities and the risk of being removed permanently from the platform.
As we're building a community of like-minded drivers and car owners, we encourage all members to complete their profiles, adding pictures, occupation and interests. Mostly all of our renter members tend to message a car owner first, to briefly introduce themselves and let the owner know the intended purpose of their rental. And that's when you start to realise the people you rent are in your community: teachers, nurses, architects, lawyers, moms and dads. You're free to reject any booking request, but in practice, our service appeals to individuals like who just need a convenient car for a few days. The most common use cases we find are weddings, funerals and first dates!
People choose to trust a third party with their second most valuable asset because they ultimately control, choosing who they rent to or deny, because they are protected by insurance and great customer support, and because the combination of validation and pre-rental screening and reviews ensures a high-quality community of safe drivers and a great way to reduce the number of cars on the road while making a little money in the process. Indeed, examples like AirBnb show people are very happy trusting their most expensive asset; too. we think this is the next step!