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  • Car sharing: how are users and owners insured?

    08.02.2022 | Ailina Scherrer
    Car sharing is a low-cost alternative to owning your own car. But how are you insured if you have an accident with a rented car? How about if you lend your own car to a neighbour? We advise on lending and borrowing vehicles.
carsharing

Car sharing: how are users and owners insured?

08.02.2022 | Ailina Scherrer
carsharing
Car sharing is a low-cost alternative to owning your own car. But how are you insured if you have an accident with a rented car? How about if you lend your own car to a neighbour? We advise on lending and borrowing vehicles.

It doesn't always have to be your own car: you can also rent or share one. The trend is towards sharing instead of owning, and apps and internet platforms are making it easier and easier. It's estimated that around 15 million people across Europe now do their driving on the car-sharing principle. In the event of damage or loss, you're insured – which makes for a carefree journey. There are a few points to bear in mind.

If you rent a car from a classic car rental provider, a car manufacturer or a garage, you don't have to worry about insurance – because the providers take care of it. This also applies to the Mobility car-sharing provider. These companies own the vehicles they rent out, so they arrange the appropriate cover. In the event of a claim, you as the renter are fully covered for third-party liability and by comprehensive insurance – with passenger accident cover as an option. The premiums for this cover are included in the rental charge. As a customer, you only pay a fixed deductible per claim. Helvetia advises you always to check the amount of the deductible before concluding the contract. If you want to keep it as low as possible, you can usually reduce it by paying a higher premium.

Car rental via sharing platforms

The situation is different when using third-party vehicles via internet platforms such as 2EM. Here the comprehensive insurance component is covered, but the deductible is usually fixed. Additional insurance is sometimes included, such as passenger accident or emergency-assistance insurance. Renting a car via one of these platforms means accepting the insurance cover provided. The premium is added to the rental charge. Unlike direct renters, sharing platforms do not usually provide liability cover for the rented vehicle – only a deductible, if any, and the loss of the vehicle owner's no-claims bonus. Under road traffic legislation the actual liability damage is covered by the vehicle owner's personal insurance policy, but this is immaterial to the renter.

In the event of a breakdown: who pays?

If your rental vehicle breaks down, emergency assistance is usually provided. The insurance cover generally includes breakdown assistance. In this event, Helvetia advises you to dial the emergency number of the provider indicated in the rental documents. Repair costs are also normally borne by the rental car provider, as hirers are entitled to assume that vehicles are in perfect condition. Hirers could at most be held liable for repair costs if they contributed to the breakdown by ignoring instructions. If they continue to drive despite a low-oil warning, for example, thus causing engine damage, they can be held responsible.

Private car rental: who is liable for damage?

The situation is different if you rent a vehicle from a private individual for a fee. Helvetia recommends clarifying the insurance cover before using the vehicle. In most cases you have no choice: you must accept the existing cover.

A car shared by several people should also be well insured. Comprehensive insurance protects against financial losses and disputes in the event of a claim. We especially recommend comprehensive insurance for new cars and cars with a high market value, as their total loss or expensive repair represents a major financial risk. You should also inquire about sensible supplementary insurance. Bonus protection insurance is certainly a good investment, as the other parties involved in an accident won't be punished with a premium increase.

Even if several people share a vehicle, only one of them is considered the keeper and owner by the road traffic authorities. The insurance policy is also issued to this person. When arranging insurance it is important to declare that the vehicle will be regularly driven by several people. These persons will then be entered in the policy as frequent drivers. No special car-sharing insurance is necessary. The scope of cover can be determined by the carpool members.

Regular lending: comprehensive insurance is the preferred option

If you only lend your car from time to time and without charge, the insurer does not usually have to be notified. If you regularly rent out a car privately to other drivers, however, this must be reported to your insurer. This is the only way to avoid arguments in the event of a claim. Whether the insurer charges a higher premium varies from case to case. Insurance cover is more sensitive, though. The owner of the vehicle must be aware that other users cannot arrange insurance cover for the vehicle themselves. Helvetia accordingly recommends comprehensive insurance here too, so that the owner does not have to seek compensation for a deductible or any damage from the person who caused it.

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