Would You Rent Out Your Car?

More and more “car club” services are popping up all over the UK. Zipcar, for example, a company that owns a fleets of cars that drivers can hire for as little as an hour, have locations in major cities across the country. The peer to peer rental/sharing market has soared over the last few years, with thousands of people hiring out everything from their spare bedroom to their Louboutins – so why not make some money from your car, too?

Krishna Williams rents out his car

Image: The Guardian

easyCar Club have spotted a gap in the hire car market, allowing people to hire their car directly to other drivers in the local area. It’s immensely safer than hiring through a local free listings site or social networking sites, as there are a whole hot of protective measures in place, including feedback for both the hirer and the owner, insurance provided by easyCar for the duration of the hire period (which means that your no claims discount is protected, as the hire doesn’t effect your existing insurance policy), RAC cover (whether you’re driving your car or whether you’re hiring the car out) and the ability to “block out” days or weeks where you’ll be driving the car, and to accept or deny requests to hire as and when you please. Put simply, you are in control of each and every hire.

The sticking point with easyCar’s system is that they are quite stringent with regards to who can hire their car out. Vehicles must be less than five years old (although older vehicles can become hire cars – easyCar will pay for an RAC inspector to make sure that it’s roadworthy), have driven less than 120,000 miles, be worth less than £60,000 and be covered in insurance classes 1-32. This means that your average, run of the mill family/city/commuting car will fit the bill just nicely. If you have a more exotic car – like a Ferrari or a Lambourghini (lucky you) there are sites dedicated to hiring out these types of cars, with the proper insurance and maintenance cover included so that you don’t need to worry about whether your car is going to get scratched/totaled.

Something to keep in mind when considering hiring out your car is how attached you are to it. If you’re a bit of a fanatic, wash and wax it weekly and are slightly obsessive about not letting the children eat in it, hiring out is probably not the best idea – no matter the precautions, even if you stipulate that the car must be returned clean, tidy and with a full tank of petrol – the person hiring the car may have a different view on what clean, tidy and full mean. On the other hand, if your car is simply something you use to get from A to B, or you use it in conjunction with public transport, or if it’s sat in a train/bus car park each day for 10 hours whilst you commute, hiring it out could provide you with extra income for very little effort and very little fuss.

Sneaky Things You Need to Know Before Renting A Car

Car hire can be a pain in the neck, but it’s also incredibly useful, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar spot, going on holiday or just need a car for the day. But there’s a minefield of things that you need to think about – insurance, existing insurance, roadside assistance and tax, to name but a few.

hireacar

  • A lot of the “big name” car hire companies own a lot of the slightly smaller car hire companies. Avis, for example, owns Budget. Oftentimes, the price differs massively between companies despite the fact that they’re all owned by the same company. Always, always, always do a comparison search before you go ahead and reserve the hire. If you can’t do that, or you have to make the hire at the airport kiosk, you’ll pay far more than you should.
  • Before you go ahead and say yes to the hire car insurance, check with your own car insurer to see whether or not your existing policy covers you for any accidents or incidents that may occur in another vehicle. Most car insurance policies that are fully comprehensive will cover you for hire cars. So there’s no need to take out an additional policy – you’ll just be covered twice. If you don’t know whether or not you’re covered, just give your insurer a ring before you get to the kiosk. If not, your credit card or bank account might offer insurance that you’re not even aware of, so make sure that you check!
  • It’s oftentimes much cheaper to hire a car directly from an individual, rather than a company, using services like Zipcar or through direct peer-to-peer sharing and selling sites like Gumtree. These tend to give you greater flexibility, as you can hire for shorter periods of time or even by the hour, which is really handy if you just need to drive to and from a hotel, for example, but don’t want to pick up a cab. The only downside with these kinds of hires is that you usually have to return the car to the pick-up location, which means that you’ll need alternate transport to return home. Generally, hiring from an individual or sharing service is much easier if you’re in an area with lots of public transport.
  • Make sure that the rate quoted is the rate that you have to pay. All too often, the rate advertised isn’t actually the final rate that you’ll pay – make sure that it includes everything, like roadside assistance, all of the relevant insurance (if you need it), VAT and tax. You don’t want to end up with a big ol’ bill at the end of the hire, so make sure you get the information up front.

Why Zipping is the New Renting

Chances are, you’ve heard at least a little bit about Uber and Lyft over the last few months – car sharing and “taxi” schemes designed for you to hop in someone else’s car and hitch a ride, often at a significantly lower cost than regular car services, with either (and) a big pink moustache on the front of the car or a “U” on the dash. Uber has recently hopped over the pond to the London car rental market, but Lyft is still an unknown. Luckily, though, we have Zipcar – a “car club” that want to take 1 million cars off the road, matching drivers with riders and ensuring that everyone gets to do their bit for the plant, all while getting to drive thousands of cars in locations all over the world.

zipcarcars

This kind of car club is completely different to your run of the mill rent a car concept – basically, everybody pays a fee to be able to drive any of the cars on their books at any time. Many of the cars are available to hire either hourly or daily, ideal if you want to pop out of town for the afternoon or go away for the weekend. You make the hire, unlock the car with your smartphone or the Zipcar app, hop in and drive away. Then when you return, you simply leave the car back at its reservation bay. There are 6 simple rules that are explained to every Zipcar member when they join, which include things like leaving the car with at least 1/4 of a tank of fuel, making sure that the car is clean/free of food wrappers and pet hairs before you leave and keeping the car smoke free, so that everyone can enjoy the ride. There are a few flaws with this though – if the car becomes damaged, there’s no way to tell who damaged the car as they’re not monitored or attended and the onus automatically fall on the last person to drive the car. That’s all well and good, but if the damage occurred between the end of your hire period and the beginning of the next hire period, you have a problem. The only way to solve this is either to take photographs of the vehicle as you leave it, or to shoot a quick video. For the extra 5 seconds of inconvenience, it’s definitely worth it – otherwise, you might be charged for something that wasn’t your fault.

Ultimately, companies like Zipcar and even the entrepeuner hiring out his car on the weekends to make a little extra money all have one thing in common: the potential to vastly change the way we see the car hire market. Zipcar estimate that each Zipcar takes 6 personally-owned cars off the road, while owners who sign up to the service typically drive less than 1,000 miles per year – adding up to huge energy savings of 121 million litres of crude oil left in the ground, which means that our natural resources are being protected. Not only that, but with fewer cars on the road, we can all enjoy cleaner, greener air and more open spaces.

Even if just a few of us start to hire cars for the day instead of buying a brand new vehicle, it’s a step in the right direction – and that’s what’s important.