Consumer Law

New Calif. Law Lets Individuals Rent Cars to Strangers, Via 'Green' Nonprofit

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Tempting though it might be to pick up a few bucks by letting a friend or acquaintance rent your car in tough economic times, doing so runs the risk of invalidating your personal auto insurance policy and being held responsible for an accident.

But a new California law that took effect Jan. 1 puts that traditional rule into reverse. Under AB 1871, an individual’s decision to use his or her personal vehicle in this manner isn’t a commercial use requiring an expensive commercial insurance policy, according to a City CarShare press release.

The San Francisco Bay-area nonprofit is partnering with Spride to offer individuals the “green” opportunity to loan their private vehicles to the program, say, while they are at work, effectively parking for free and earning a rental fee that helps offset the cost of car ownership, explains a TPM Live Wire post.

A potential downside, though, one observer notes is that a renter may not treat the vehicle as carefully as the owner.

Much like the ZipCar program that is now offered in a number of cities throughout the country, the vehicles provided by Spride can be located via smart phones and tracking technology. Electronic keys will help reduce the risk of theft.

Around the Capital provides a copy of AB 1871.

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