Car Rentals

Cost and Insurance for Peer to Peer Rental Cars

car exchange
red car

Not the car I plan to rent

I’m planning a trip to Salt Lake City in April and I’ll need a rental car. So I took a look at both peer to peer and commercial rental sites to find the best price. It’s not cheap to get a rental car from commercial companies at the SLC airport. Since I’ll be there for a week, but probably not driving around much, this seems like a waste of money.

Commercial vs. Peer to Peer: which one is cheaper?

RelayRides is the only peer to peer rental service I could find in SLC. Fortunately many car owners offer cheap or free delivery to the airport for many of their cars, and at the bottom of the price range I found RelayRides to be about $100 cheaper than the cheapest commercial rentals for a week. To be clear, the cheaper cars on RelayRides are not as new as the commercial rental cars, so I’m saving money by downgrading my rental. But really I don’t need anything fancy, and I’m perfectly happy with this tradeoff in quality for price.

RelayRides car search for SLC

RelayRides car search for SLC

If you want a comparable car (new, same features, etc.) I don’t think the prices on RelayRides are cheaper. But if you want a bargain car, or you want a different model or features from the standard offerings at the car rental companies, RelayRides might be a good option for you.

Insuring your Peer to Peer Rental

Never having rented a car from RelayRides before I did some investigating on rental insurance so I could factor that into the cost. I don’t rent many cars and I wasn’t all that familiar with my auto insurance policy on this topic. So I called up my auto insurer to ask them about this.

allstate auto insuranceIf you know how insurance works you probably already know that any personal auto insurance you have will apply to rental cars. My liability and collision insurance follows me to any car that I rent. Allstate confirmed that this applies to RelayRides as much as it does to Hertz. That’s good news for sharing economy rentals.

The RelayRides website warns people that rental insurance offered through credit cards generally won’t work for peer to peer rentals. Years ago I had a great experience with a rental car accident for which I’d used credit card insurance (if an accident can be a great experience). The car was totaled. And the credit card company paid quickly with no hassle, and no expense to me. So when I don’t own a car (and hence have no auto insurance) I’m quite happy to rely on credit cards for rental auto insurance. I was sad to learn this doesn’t work with peer to peer rentals.

Which brings me to your last option: RelayRides does offer add-on insurance for renters. They have three tiers. This is directly from their website:

Premium Package: Liability coverage up to $1,000,000; physical damage to the car covered up to the actual cash value of the car. In each case, coverage is secondary to any other insurance you may already have. There is no deductible for the supplemental liability coverage; for the physical damage protection, once you’ve exhausted your own insurance for physical damage, your out-of-pocket exposure is limited to $500. There is no coverage (i.e., you are fully financially responsible) for mechanical or interior damage

Basic Package: Same terms as above, except the physical damage deductible is $2500.

Decline Coverage: Same liability coverage, but no protection at all for physical damage: renter is liable for all costs related to physical damage.

The cost of insurance depends on the car you are renting. Adding premium protection to the car that cost $136 for a week bumped the price up by $54.40. That starts to get a lot closer to the cost of the cheapest commercial car rental.

What Did I Choose?

I’m wavering between booking with RelayRides and booking using my Chase points or Barclay Arrival points with a commercial rental company, which would cost me $0 out of pocket, but would burn through some of those points. Here’s a good post from Darius at MillionMileSecrets on how to do the points booking. Stay tuned….