If you’ve been involved with a Turo car accident, you may find that, like many aspects of today’s peer-to-peer economy, the car-sharing trend doesn’t offer much clarity in terms of liability and personal injury.
Car sharing is a service through which private owners rent out their vehicles through a mobile application. Several companies have emerged to take advantage of this new phenomena, including Getaround, ZipCar and HydeCar.
Turo is probably the most well-known.
Turo has been around since Shelby Clark founded Relay Rides in Boston in 2009. In late 2010, they moved to San Francisco, where their headquarters remain today. In 2015, the firm rebranded to Turo – a made-up word that sounds like a cross between “turbo” and “touring.”
The rebranding may have been a marketing decision. It may also have had something to do with the fact that, in May 2013, the New York State Department of Financial Services had issued a consumer alert against Relay Rides for misrepresenting insurance coverage for its users. RelayRides was fined $200,000 and forced to suspend operations in the state of New York.
To this day, according to Turo’s own website, while using Turo, users cannot share their vehicle within New York state, or deliver the car to a location in New York state “for insurance reasons.”
Despite Turo’s bumpy history, by 2017, the company reported four million registered users and 170,000 available privately owned rental cars. Currently, the company has a four-star-plus rating on Consumer Affairs.
However, if you Google “Turo car accident,” or “Turo nightmare,” you’ll find that not all is 100% rosy. There are both pros and cons to renting through Turo or similar services:
Turo is fairly easy to use, and in many cases cheaper and more convenient than going with a standard rental car company:
- Download the mobile app and set up your account. You’ll need to provide a photo of your driver’s license.
- Look for an available car in your area, and book it. Many cars are available for $20-$30 per day, or even less.
- When you request a booking, owners have up to eight hours to respond, but most respond much sooner. You can also look for a “Book Instantly” listing.
- Once the reservation is booked, meet with the owner to pick up the car. Some owners will deliver the car for an additional fee.
- After using the car, return it at the agreed-upon time and location.
You can also rent vehicles you’d never find at a standard rental car company – like high-end exotic and luxury cars, super-high-performance vehicles, classic and vintage cars, and electric vehicles, as well as unique and unusual vehicles.
Also, Turo allows you to rent a car in the U.S. if you are over 18. Most rental car companies won’t rent to anyone under 25. Drivers between the ages of 18-25 will pay a “young driver fee,” and have certain auto insurance requirements. Drivers under 21 can’t rent a car valued over $20,000.
The cons can be summed up in one sentence: If anything goes wrong with a Turo rental, it could be an absolute nightmare for anyone involved. This is especially true if you’re involved in a Turo car accident.
Naturally, vehicle accidents are never pleasant, especially if injuries are involved. But the companies accident victims deal with can be helpful and compassionate, or they can be adversarial, incompetent and downright horrible.
The Turo experience seems to run the full length of that spectrum.
Here are the categories most Turo nightmare scenarios fall into:
- The vehicle owner’s car is trashed or totaled by a renter, and the owner must endure months of confusion before being compensated – if they are compensated at all.
- A renter receives a car that is unsafe.
- A renter returns the car in good condition, and the owner later bills them (fraudulently) for damage or cleaning fees. Turo can charge up to $250 for a cleaning fee.
- A renter injures or kills a third party in a Turo car accident.
Avoiding Turo Nightmares
Not everything is avoidable, but car sharing hosts and renters can prevent many problems by using common sense business practices:
Both parties need to check the car thoroughly and document everything before and after every rental.
Check the interior and the exterior and make a note of anything that is not in showroom condition, including dirt, stains, scratches, dents, or anything that is missing or broken.
Start the car and note the mileage. Report any dashboard warnings such as a “check engine light,” unusual noises or behavior, or anything that doesn’t work as it should. Take photos or send the information via text or email so that you have a record.
Don’t skip going over the vehicle again when it is returned, and taking photos of all the same things. This is your proof of whether or not dirt or damage was the renter’s fault.
Buy the insurance.
Whether you’re a Turo host or renter, you should definitely purchase their insurance protection. Hosts should be aware that your regular car insurance will not cover damages to your vehicle if you are renting it out. Renters’ personal automobile insurance coverage may likewise not cover everything, nor will your credit card insurance, which only covers vehicle rentals from licensed commercial rental agencies.
Turo offers three levels of Protection Plans for U.S. hosts: Premium, Standard, and Basic. They all offer third party liability insurance up to $1,000,000. The difference between the three is the coverage for vehicle damage. You can find out about these plans on Turo’s website.
Turo renters don’t need their own personal automobile insurance coverage to book a vehicle. For renters, Turo also offers three levels of coverage: Premium, Standard and Minimum. All three cover physical damage protection up to the actual cash value of the car. None of them cover mechanical or interior damage.
The premium insurance protection offers emergency roadside assistance and up to $1 million liability insurance with no deductible. The Standard and Minimum plans offer the minimum liability insurance required by the state where the car is registered, with a $500 deductible or a $3000 deductible respectively. You can find more information here.
What Turo’s insurance protection doesn’t offer, however, is coverage for medical expenses (Personal Injury Protection) or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Which brings us to…
What Should I Do If I’ve Been In a Turo Car Accident?
If you are the victim of another driver’s negligence, it’s important to know what to do afterward to ensure your safety and your rights.
If you have an accident as a Turo renter, you must report the accident immediately – at least within 24 hours of the trip’s end or date of the incident. You must also file a police report and provide the report number to Turo. If you don’t, you may not be eligible for compensation.
Otherwise, do everything else you should do in an accident.
Remain at the scene; check everyone involved for injuries. Exchange contact and insurance information with all parties involved. Contact the police and ask them to file a traffic collision report. Collect evidence: photographs, notes, and contact information of witnesses.
And, even if you don’t think you were injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is both a safety precaution, as not all injuries may not present immediately after an accident – but also to protect any future claim you may make for accident-related medical expenses. Treatment gaps can work against you in these types of claims.
As a renter, if the accident was caused by preexisting damage to the car that was not made known to you at the time of the rental, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you have been hit by a Turo driver, you may need to deal with Turo’s insurance company to be compensated. As we’ve mentioned above, this may not be as easy as it should be.
If you’ve been injured in a Turo car accident, TorkLaw’s personal injury attorneys can help you sort through the confusion to make sure you receive every bit of compensation you deserve. Call us today: 888.845.9696.