The investment in a car is a large one—not only do most people have monthly car payments, but repairs, regular maintenance, paying for gas, and insurance costs can pile on quickly. Unlike other assets such as a home, vehicles depreciate over time. Rather than pouring your money into a new car, or buying a second vehicle to accommodate your family, car sharing is an alternative. With these programs, you set up a membership and receive a card equipped with RFID technology. With this card, you have access to any car in that company’s inventory. As long as you return the car in one piece, all you have to pay for is your membership fee and a fixed rate per hour of use. Sounds pretty simple, right? If your driving requirements are minimal, this can be a viable option, but you should be aware of how these programs work to ensure this is the best choice for you.
Potential Insurance Hurdles
While insurance is normally included as part of a car sharing membership, there are potential issues. For starters, if you car-share through a company, there are likely exclusions and strict limitations when it comes to filing a claim. Furthermore, if you participate personally in a car sharing program, your policy may not be renewable if an accident occurs while being used for this purpose. Each company will have their own regulations when it comes to insurance, but it is best to consult your own insurance agent about how you could be affected if you are involved in an accident while driving a car from a car sharing program. Your agent can help you dissect the car sharing company’s policies so you know exactly what you are getting into.
When it comes to car sharing programs, there are a number of options that vary from company to company, which can be confusing for customers. For example, some programs have cars parked throughout the city, but there isn’t always one in your immediate vicinity. In other programs, you must reserve a car ahead of time, but availability isn’t guaranteed. Many people sign up for car sharing without reading the fine print or all the terms and agreements, so they are frustrated when a car isn’t available to them. This is pretty inconvenient when you need to get to work and find yourself without a ride you thought you would have.
Difficulty During Rush Hour
If you are thinking about car sharing to accommodate you during rush hour traffic, you may want to consider other options. Oftentimes, you have to plan far in advance, and, even so, you may have to walk a long distance to actually get to a car. This can prove inconvenient, especially during inclement weather. However, if you have the time and patience, it can save you money as an alternative to making a hefty monthly car payment.
Is Car Sharing Really for Me?
Car sharing isn’t for everybody. Whether you are considering using a vehicle or offering yours for use, the above obstacles should be strongly considered before making any final decisions. Car sharing can be a viable transportation solution, but ensure you are properly educated before investing in this option.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got her advice about car sharing insurance issues from a Las Vegas car accident lawyer.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via William Warby