Are you covered when you’re driving a Zipcar?
Car sharing services like Zipcar can be a lifesaver for city drivers who only need a car occasionally, or who need an extra set of wheels for a special event. Zipcar even makes it possible for you to rent a van if you need to move something big. It’s no wonder that it’s taken off since its founding in 2000 — in 2016, the company, which was acquired by Avis in 2013, boasted 1 million members across the globe.
But when it comes to auto insurance, Zipcar generally offers its members, or “Zipsters,” a minimum amount of coverage, which can leave you on the hook for big costs if you have an accident in your Zipcar. In this guide, we’ll go over how much coverage you’re getting with your Zipcar, and how to decide if you need additional insurance.
Zipcar offers its members liability coverage, which is the backbone of most car insurance policies. Liability insurance exists to cover you for the costs of damaging someone else’s property or injuring someone with your car.
However, Zipcar’s liability coverage can vary depending on how long you’ve been a member. The longer you’ve been driving with Zipcar, the more coverage you’ll get:
The newest Zipcar members, or members who are under 21, start out with liability coverage up to their state’s minimum financial responsibility — so those drivers are just getting enough coverage to meet the legal requirements for car insurance.
The next level, for members who have been with Zipcar a little longer (the exact dates are listed on the service’s website) get bodily injury liability coverage of up to $100,000 per person, with a $300,000 maximum and up to $25,000 in property damage liability.
The longest-standing Zipcar members have liability coverage with a combined single limit of $300,000 per accident.
So, while Zipcar offers all of its drivers some amount of coverage, even its most loyal customers might be left unprotected in the event of an accident. If you cause more in damages or injuries than your Zipcar liability policy covers, you could be on the hook for the rest of the costs. And if you injure yourself or damage your Zipcar, you’ll be stuck with the bill. In fact, the company warns members that an accident in a Zipcar, as well as damage like dents, scratches, windshield cracks, and even damage caused by extreme weather, can land Zipcar drivers with a $1,000 damage fee.
So how do you make sure you’re still covered for the damage or injuries that Zipcar insurance won’t pay for? Well if you have your own car insurance (which isn’t necessary to rent a Zipcar), depending on your coverage, it may cover you if you’re in a Zipcar accident.
Like with other rental cars, your auto insurance coverage generally extends to your Zipcar, meaning your own liability coverage can help with whatever Zipcar’s liability doesn’t cover. And if you have collision and comprehensive insurance as part of your plan, your insurer will help pay for damage to your Zipcar. If you’re in an accident in a Zipcar and you have your own car insurance, contact your provider as soon as possible to see if you’re covered.
Plenty of Zipcar members don’t have their own car insurance. After all, it’s a service designed to make life easier for non-car owners. But that doesn’t mean you’re not covered at all. It may be possible that your credit card offers you some rental car coverage, but you should check with your card company to make sure that coverage extends to Zipcar and other car-sharing services.
Some credit card companies, like Visa, for example, expressly exclude car-sharing services from their rental car coverage. If you’re concerned about coverage, you may want to look into something called non-owner car insurance.
If you’re a frequent Zipcar driver and you’re concerned about coverage, non-owner car insurance might be a good buy for you. Sometimes called non-driver car insurance, this is a special type of coverage for people who don’t have their own cars, but want or need liability coverage when they drive. Many major car insurance providers offer non-owner policies.
It is, however, a limited kind of car insurance coverage. You may be able to add coverage to your non-owners policy, like: personal injury protection (PIP), to help pay for your medical expenses or lost wages; and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, in case you’re in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
You can’t add comp or collision insurance, or put any other drivers onto a non-owner policy. That said, it’s a good choice for some drivers, and if you’re frequently driving Zipcars or using any other car-sharing service, non-owner car insurance can help cover you if the damage you cause in an accident exceeds the company-provided liability coverage.
If you’re not sure whether non-owner car insurance is right for you, a Policygenius expert can help you figure out exactly what kind of car insurance coverage best fits your needs.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.