Car sharing: would you rent your car out by the hour to a stranger?

Rental cars have been around for decades, and even newer alternative rental car services such as Zipcar are well established now, but a new brand of rental service called “car sharing” has sprung up with companies like Turo. People rent out their private cars by the hour and day. That’s right – you rent out your own car to a complete stranger. Here’s generally how it works:

You register your car with one of these new car rental networks and then the service will send you a device that allows people to unlock your car without a key. Once you’ve installed it, you set hourly and daily prices for the rental, set your car’s availability (for instance, while you are at work and don’t need your car), and the service matches renters with your car.

After that, renters just need to show up at your car, use their unlocking code provided by the company, then use the key you left in the car to drive it away and return it when they are done. The “rental” company also handles the financial transaction for you (taking a service fee naturally) so it is likely that if you signed up for this service you would never even meet the people renting your car.

While it is an innovative idea, this probably won’t be for everyone. Some people just won’t like the idea of strangers being in their cars, and others might find it too inconvenient to have their car out of reach at certain times in the day.

As far as car insurance goes, the major companies providing the services today do include auto insurance with their programs, though of course, you would be wise to fully understand what kind of coverage is offered, and we would recommend that you also speak with your current insurance provider as well.

That said, for those that are comfortable enough with the idea of car sharing, this rental model could be a good way to earn extra income – perhaps enough to offset many of the costs related to owning a car, including, yes, auto insurance.