Peer-to-Peer Carsharing and Insurance Implications (PA)
A new law was introduced in the House Appropriations Committee as an amendment to Senate Bill 1222 and officially became law on July 11th. The amendment outlines the coverage requirements for companies engaging in peer-to-peer carsharing, mandating an additional layer of insurance so injured third parties won’t be left uninsured if a car owner’s policy includes exceptions for livery, or business activities.
Peer to peer carsharing is the process of renting vehicles from other people rather than traditional car rental companies. It has been coined “AirBnB for cars” and provides many benefits including lower prices and more variety in vehicle choices. The fledgling industry is not without complications, primarily on the insurance and regulatory fronts. Chief among the insurance issues is that some carsharing networks’ fine print says a renter’s personal auto policy would be the primary source for paying claims, even though most personal policies typically exclude renting or driving car-sharing vehicles from coverage.
Some attorneys have noted the amendment is similar in substance to another proposed bill on the topic – Senate Bill 548. The bill, introduced in April 2021, was aimed at putting carshare companies on a more equal footing with car rental companies and to ensure additional protections for owners, drivers and third parties now that carsharing is on the rise.
From the defense and carrier standpoint, the new law does not invalidate exclusions that are already in place, and it requires carsharing companies to provide coverage that would otherwise be out of bounds under the owner’s policy. However, litigators on the plaintiffs side have raised questions about the measure’s effectiveness in protecting the parties. Some have expressed concerns that because consumers’ personal auto insurance may contain an exclusion, they may be forced to rent these cars using the companies’ minimum insurance policies, which likely won’t provide adequate coverage in the event of an accident.
One thing lawyers on both sides of the issue can agree on is that these new disputes will be headed to the courts.
Thanks to Sydney Kockler for her contribution to this post. Please contact Heather Aquino with any questions.