As cities such as Bloomington, West Lafayette, and Indianapolis got caught up in the electric scooter craze, college campuses in those areas got to experience Zipcar, a car-sharing service that lets students “own the trip, not the car.”
Similar to electric scooters, members can rent Zipcars for personal or business use. With monthly and annual mileage plans, Zipcar is a great option for people who don’t drive often or don’t want to keep a car on campus.
As cities grow and electric cars become more affordable, car sharing seems to be the way of the future. But when it comes to insurance, Zipcar’s member insurance policy leaves something to be desired. Before you become a Zipcar member, you should be aware of how their damage policies will affect you in the case of an Indiana car accident.
Zipcar’s Damage Policy
If you are a Zipcar member, then you are responsible for any and all damage that occurs to the vehicle while in your possession. This includes weather damage caused by hail, flooding, or dropped tree branches. This also includes third party damage — for example, any damage that occurs after you return the Zipcar to its reserved spot but before the next driver picks it up. If you do not report the damage at the start of your reservation, then Zipcar automatically holds you responsible.
Zipcar will charge you a damage fee of up to $1,000 for any damage sustained to your reserved car. Zipcar has been known to charge members damage fees without alerting them first; for college students on strict budgets, losing that much money without prior notification could be disastrous. If this happens, members can appeal the fees. But the appeals process is tedious and somewhat mysterious, and success isn’t a guarantee.
If you don’t want to run the risk of paying any damage fees, you could purchase a damage fee waiver. Damage fee waivers can be purchased monthly, annually, or per reservation. If you use a credit card that offers rental insurance, then that insurance may cover the cost of a damage waiver.
Waivers are only available for Zipcar members with a clean record. If you had to pay a damage fee at any point during the past year, you couldn’t buy a damage fee waiver.
If You are At Fault for the Car-Share Accident
Zipcar doesn’t provide rental insurance. Instead, members 18 years and older have liability coverage up to the minimum dollar amount in the state the accident occurs. In the case of an Indiana car accident, Zipcar drivers 18 years old and older have liability coverage for:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
The amount of coverage may be greater if you became a Zipcar member before August 1, 2018.
If you, a Zipcar member, are at fault for the car accident, then this basic coverage is meant to cover the property damage and medical bills of the other drivers and passengers. But when it comes to medical bills, $50,000 may not go very far—especially if several people are injured.
Zipcar doesn’t allow members to purchase additional insurance through the company. Unless your own car insurance policy offers more than the state minimums for personal injury and property damage, then you will have to pay the difference out of your own pocket.
And if Zipcar finds that you were violating the terms and conditions of the agreement at the time of the car accident, then they could terminate your membership. This means you would no longer be covered by their insurance policy, and you would still be responsible for the costs and damages that happened during your membership. So if the other driver or passengers wanted to file for damages, they would file their claims with your insurance company, not Zipcar.
Zipcar Accidents in No-Fault States
In fault states like Indiana, the at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for the other driver’s damages. But in no-fault states, it doesn’t matter who caused the car accident. All parties involved in a car accident must go through their own insurance companies to recover their damages.
If you are driving a Zipcar in a no-fault state and get into an accident, Zipcar offers personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to the minimum level required by that state. But if the state minimums are too low, you can cover your medical bills with your own health insurance instead.
Waiving Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Indiana requires every car insurance policy to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage pays for your damages if you are hit by an uninsured driver, or if your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit.
When you become a Zipcar member, you voluntarily waive all uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If an underinsured driver is at fault for your Zipcar accident, and your damages exceed the limits of their insurance policy, you won’t have underinsured motorist coverage to cover the difference.
Instead, you’ll either have to go through your own insurance and risk raising your premium, or pay for repairs out of your own pocket.
Can I Hold Zipcar Liable for My Injuries?
Zipcar is responsible for making its fleet of cars safe for the road. If you can prove that your Zipcar was defective at the time of the car accident, and that Zipcar knew or should have known that maintenance was needed, you may be able to hold Zipcar responsible for negligence.
After a Muncie Car-Share Accident
If you are involved in a car accident while driving a Zipcar, you must call the police, get the other driver’s contact and insurance information, and take pictures of any damage. If you were injured in the car share accident, seek immediate medical attention.
You must also immediately report the car accident to Zipcar and provide the police report and any other documentation of the accident to their claims adjuster. They will handle filing an insurance claim if necessary. But remember, even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you’ll probably still have to pay a damage fee.
If you were involved in a Muncie car accident involving a Zipcar, and are unsure how to file a claim or who to file it with, an experienced local attorney from Hensley Legal Group can help you go over the details of your specific case. Give us a call or contact us online for a free conversation about your car share accident claim.