I Put My Car On RelayRides And Then I Took It Off

Posted By Debbie on July 17, 2014

Since I mostly drive my moto, my car sits in the driveway. I’m thinking about selling it, but my boyfriend thinks we won’t be able to share his car. I’m not convinced, so I’ll spend the rest of the year keeping a list of when I use my car so I can then present a good case for selling it.

I found out about RelayRides. It’s like Uber backwards. It’s like AirBnB for cars. You offer your car for people to rent. RelayRides takes car of matching people with you, handling the transaction, etc… They’re the platform.

Well this would be great! Even if I break even on my monthly loan and insurance payment, at least it’s money coming in for a car otherwise sitting in my driveway. So I posted my car for a few dollars less per day than RelayRides suggested. I figured with all the cars available near me, I’d have weeks to keep researching them before someone actually wanted it.

The next day, someone requested to rent my car for a month.

Holy cats, that went fast! Um, OK… Well, the guy seemed like a perfect rental on paper. Looks 50-something. American guy living in Israel. Has his own little marketing company. OK, hypothetically, he should be a low risk, responsible guy.

I emailed RelayRides from their contact page. I asked them to please clarify insurance, especially in light of what I’ve been reading online. Nobody ever responded.

I asked my boyfriend what he thought. Boyfriend did some Googling and wrote back with an article where some people who rented their cars through RelayRides ended up being stuck in really bad insurance situations. In one case, someone other than the renter damaged the car, the renter didn’t feel like getting a police report, and the car owner got stuck paying the insurance deductible. In a way worse case, a driver of a rented car killed himself when he crashed into a car. All of the passengers ended up with critical injuries. The medical bills for multiple people totalled more than the $1M insurance RelayRides carries.

As a UX consultant, I carry $1M of insurance. And I am really unlikely to damage your property, send you to the hospital, make you need lifelong care, or kill you. Beyond unlikely!

So how is it that someone could assess the risk of a car rental and decide that only $1M is needed? The cost of 50 years of daily care for someone who is paralysed runs around $14M.

But wait, it gets worse. My insurance company said they wouldn’t cover me at all when my car is rented.

You might think hey, I have good car insurance. If someone got into an accident, I’d just have my insurance cover it. Well newsflash, they probably won’t.

Why? Because you probably have a personal car insurance policy. You didn’t insure your car as a business vehicle. You didn’t tell the insurance company that other people will be driving it so you can make money. This means you need a commercial policy because this is a commercial activity. A personal policy would not cover a business use of the car. So expect your insurance company to stay totally out of anything that happens while your car is on a RelayRides adventure.

And in some states, you can be sued personally as the car owner.

It’s all bad, so I rejected the rental request (at least you can do that!) and explained to him what I learned… and that I just can’t take that risk. He was very nice and understood. I deactivated my car’s listing on RelayRides.

RelayRides then emailed me about rejecting that rental. Why they thought I rejected it was way wrong.

When you agree to rent your car, you put in an address where people can meet you (like your home) or you pick an airport. I picked a shopping centre near my home (why would I give my home address out?!?!?!?) and I picked the SFO airport. Sure, I’ll go meet people at the airport. A $25 cab home is worth making nearly $500 by renting my car out for a month (though I would be 1099’ed and have to pay taxes).

The email I got after rejecting the rental said that they found that many people don’t want to go to the airport. So here’s a new service they’ll offer so I don’t have to go to the airport.

You mean you think I wrote in my profile that I WOULD go to the airport and then rejected nearly $500 because I didn’t want to go to the airport? I would think that the people who didn’t want to go to the airport are the people who did NOT mark their profile as willing to go to the airport! Try emailing THEM!

I wrote back a long email about why I declined the rental. Nobody wrote me back even though it was a real human’s email and not a no-reply. So that’s twice I contacted them with my concerns and got no reply.

And then they put me on their mailing list and started mailing me about coming to their cool car owners’ parties. I keep trying to unsubscribe, but it looks like each email is its own mailing list… so I guess I’ll be unsubscribing from party and webinar invites forever.

This means their target car owner does no research or doesn’t mind serious personal and financial risk.

If that were my target audience, I would be trying to anticipate their problems and solving them. Your target car owner doesn’t read fine print and doesn’t imagine possible outcomes.

You don’t want to go to an airport? We have a $X service where you leave the car with us and we personally connect with your renter.

You are concerned that $1M in insurance isn’t enough because it’s what a UX consultant doing Axure prototypes carries for liability? You’re right. We went and got a $50M insurance policy, and here is our written guarantee that a car owner will NEVER pay a dollar for anything a renter does. We’ll also agree to hold you personally harmless and make sure our legal team fights for you (ie: covers your legal fees) if someone personally sues you because of something that happens in/because of your vehicle.

I need my problem solved, and my problem is way more than a cool website and some nice options like approving or declining a rental request. I have serious problems that can’t be swept under the rug.

RelayRides could have made crazy money off my car. It sits in the driveway because I drive the most beautiful moto ever made. My car is in near perfect condition. It gets great mileage. Easy to park. Good cargo space. I’m the original owner. It’s a 2011 Honda Fit with under 23,000 miles. I barely drive it. I’d love to rent it out. But not while the insurance situation is too risky. Maybe I’ll end up selling it next year.

Maybe RelayRides will improve their insurance situation. They should then email me and tell me to come back. If it’s not too late.

Edited 18 July 2014 to include my attempt to contact customer service before I rejected the rental.