What happens when you get in a car accident in a car share?
Let’s be honest — car sharing services like car2go, Evo, ZipCar, and Modo are very efficient ways to get around Vancouver. But what happens if you get in an accident?
In your haste to get to work or that appointment you absolutely couldn’t be late for, you probably skipped over fine print of how the insurance works in their terms of service pages. What are you supposed to do when you get into an accident when it’s not your car? Who do you call?
When you’re in an accident, calling a lawyer immediately is a good idea, but car sharing means the car and the insurance are not yours. We looked through the insurance policies for car2go, Evo, ZipCar, and Modo to find out what each one says about what to do in an accident. Most apply a possible damage fee of up to $1,000, with an option to purchase or acquire waivers depending on the company.
In all cases, car share provider terms and conditions require informing them of any accident as soon as possible. Some car share providers also expect copies of police reports. But in terms of individual liability, each company has slightly different expectations for their drivers. When in doubt, you can always call us for a free consultation.
Small fees can pile up. If you get a parking ticket you disagree with, you might not be able to fight it depending on your car share company. Car2go members waive their rights to challenge citations or tolls accrued while using one of their cars. If you get a traffic or parking violation, you could be charged the amount of the ticket, plus a processing fee from car2go.
In event of an accident, you are expected to notify car2go immediately. According to car2go’s Vancouver website, your deductible in event of an accident can be up to $500 because of a $1 per trip protection fee applied each time you use the service. If you use the service up to 90 times per year, it’s $0.
However, you could be on the hook for a lot more than that — what happens if you are too tired to drive and your friend decides to drive your car2go instead of you, then gets in an accident that renders the car unusable?
According to their trip process document, if the vehicle is damaged to the point where damage prevents its use and the driver is responsible, “the Member shall fully compensate car2go for such damages or losses.” This also includes if the vehicle is stolen.
Car2go can also charge you an additional $1,500 if you allow an unauthorized person to drive the vehicle. They can also charge this fee if you are in violation of their terms of service or trip process. What does this include? All of the companies have documentation requiring you to not drive while under the influence of alcohol, but Car2go’s terms of service specifically require a blood alcohol content of 0. According to their FAQ, coverage only applies if you abide by these rules, meaning a violation means you could be accountable for any damages, as well as car2go’s fees, in the event of an accident.
Perhaps the scariest part of Evo’s Member Agreement is that they insist they will not be liable to you or any other person for “the condition, safety or fitness for use of our vehicles.” What this means: if something is wrong with the vehicle that causes the collision, they claim no liability. While this might not hold up legally in the event of something severely wrong with the vehicle, it’s worth noting.
Evo insures its vehicles through Third Party Liability Insurance and a Collision and Comprehensive Insurance, and like most car shares, charge a deductible of up to $1,000 in event of an accident.
Evo mentions drivers can acquire additional insurance independent of Evo’s coverage — and it might be a good idea. While they do have insurance, you must pay for any damages that are not covered by their motor vehicle insurance for their car sharing program. According to Evo, this covers damages resulting from illegal use of their vehicles, such as impaired driving.
“We recommend that you seek other insurance protection for claims not covered by the insurance for our Evo Car-Sharing Program,” their terms and service documents read.
But that’s not all, if a court deems you at fault for an accident, you are also responsible to pay any deductible Evo incurs from their Third Party Liability Insurance, the Collision and Comprehensive Insurance, and any other insurance providers.
ZipCar’s terms of service agreement is laid out on several pages throughout their website. It is possible to purchase a waiver through ZipCar that will waive the $1,000 damage fee in event of an accident. A full waiver is available for $9/month or $79/year, which eliminates the $1,000 damage fee.
The waivers aren’t valid in case of a prohibited use of the vehicle, which not only includes not consuming alcohol or other drugs before driving, but also if you are using a cell phone without a hands-free device.
If you’re in an accident while using ZipCar, you must immediately report it. They require you to provide pictures, police reports, and other supporting documentation to their Claims Adjuster. They will then conduct an investigation into the accident.
Traffic violations are also included in ZipCar’s fees — of the companies we’ve looked at they are the most clear about the cost. If you get a parking or speeding ticket, you will be fined the ticket cost, plus a $30 processing fee. Unlike car2go, you do not waive your right to fight a speeding or parking ticket through ZipCar, but if they receive a notice and you haven’t fought the ticket yet they will automatically bill you for it.
Modo’s cars are insured through a Third-Party Liability from ICBC, and members pay an up to $1,000 damage deductible with two options for avoiding this expense. Modo offers a damage pool buy in that provides additional coverage. It cost $50 per year, but reduces the deductible to $0 in event of an accident. You do, however, have to re-enrol for the damage pool after an accident. You can also eliminate the fee by using a credit card with Collision Loss Damage Insurance (CLDI).
Modo does not mention a processing fee for any parking tickets or traffic violations on their most recent outline of fees and fines. There is a $50 fee if your car share vehicle gets towed.
Rules for being safe when using a car share
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you could be liable for when using a car share. Each case is unique and your liability could be greater based on the circumstances, that’s why it’s important to talk to a lawyer. But there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.
Survey the car thoroughly for damage before you enter — if you see any damage, report it before you enter or start using the car. Take pictures of the vehicle in advance even if there doesn’t appear to be damage.
If you get in an accident, take pictures, get a copy of the police report, and any other documentation you can get. Talk to and get the contact information of witnesses who can back you up if you need to fight claims of fault in an accident.
You should also call us. At BC Driving Lawyers, we’ve dealt with hundreds of traffic cases and accidents. If you are in an accident while using a car share, call us at 604-608-1200.