"What happens if someone rents my car and crashes it?"
People often tell us that the fear of someone crashing their car holds them back from sharing it. It's not just the cost - it's the hassle that people don't want to deal with. No-one wants to have their car come home damaged.
And while we can tell car owners that it is actually very rare (less than 0.5% of bookings) that cars are damaged while they're being used by borrowers - the average owner will have only one incidence of damage in two years of renting their car out through the platform, and most of the time it's minor damage like a scratch or broken side mirror - we know that when it does happen, it can be inconvenient and stressful.
That's why we've set up a system to take care of repairs in a way that's as hassle-free as possible for our members.
We spoke with Fiona, Car Next Door's Resolutions Manager, to find out what actually happens when a borrower damages someone's car.
Here's how the process generally works if a car gets damaged:
We work out who is responsible for the damage.
We collect payment for the estimated cost of the repairs: If a borrower is responsible, we charge them their chosen Damage Cover Liability (DCL) amount. If a third party is responsible, and the borrower provides their details to us, then our fleet insurer pays for repairs and manages the claim.
We arrange for one of our trusted repairers to collect the car and take it in for repairs. The owner doesn't need to be home - the repairer gets the keys from the lockbox.
If a car has been damaged during a borrower's booking, we pay the car's owner $25 a day for up to 28 days while the car is in for repairs. That's enough to rent another local car if they need to drive.
When the car is fixed, the repairer drops it home, puts the key back in the Lockbox, and lets us know that it's ready to go.
We make the car 'live' again, ready for bookings.
1: We work out who's responsible for the cost of repairs
"I got a call from a borrower recently," says Fiona. "He let me know that he'd parked a car on a slope and that it had rolled down the hill into the car in front, leaving a big dent in the bonnet."
Having established that no-one was injured - and that, luckily, the car in front wasn't scratched - Fiona found out a bit more about how the accident happened. It turned out that the borrower had forgotten to park the car in gear (as required by the road rules), so it was a pretty clear-cut case.
Borrowers are required to pay a security deposit each time they borrow an owner's car and take photos before and after they rent the car, so when it's no so clear cut, the onus is on the borrower to provide evidence that they did not damage the car. We work to ensure that the owner is protected when the borrower cannot disprove that they have caused damage.
2: We collect the payment for the repairs
Where a borrower is responsible for damage, they will pay for the repairs up to their chosen Damage Cover Liability (DCL) amount. If a third party is responsible, and the borrower provides their full details to us, then our fleet insurer pays for repairs and manages the claim. If the borrower can't provide the full third-party details then they will be responsible for the costs.
"Car Next Door's insurance covers the damage, and the borrower pays their DCL amount, which is like their excess," says Fiona.
"In this case, the borrower was a heavyweight member, so his liability was capped at $500. The repairs were going to cost more than this, so we charged the full DCL amount to his card."
3: The car is picked up by a repairer from our network
To save car owners the hassle of taking their car in for repairs, we created a network of trusted repairers who can collect vehicles. The repairers can use the lockbox system to get the car's key and take it in if it's drive-able, or get it towed if it's not.
"In this instance, the car's owner was heading overseas for a holiday the day after the accident happened. I told him that we'd take care of the repairs, and called George from Inner City Smash Repairs," says Fiona.
"George is great - he sent someone out that day to get the car. He could pick it up using the keys in the Lockbox, so the owner didn't need to be home to hand over the car to the repairer."
4: We give the owner money for alternative transport
If a car has been damaged during a borrower's booking, we give the car owner $25 a day for up to 28 days while his or her car is in for repairs.
"That's enough for the car owner to rent another car nearby if they need to drive," says Fiona. "Although a lot of car owners wouldn't be using their car anyway, it's nice for them to have the peace of mind and know that they won't be out of pocket if they need to get a car while theirs is being repaired."
5: The repairer fixes the car and drops it back to your home
We only work with repairers who we trust, and who we know care about their work and do a great job. Because we have a fleet of hundreds of cars to look after, we're able to build up a good ongoing relationship with these repairers.
George fixed this car while its owner was away on holidays.
"It was dropped back to the owner's place the same day that he got home, so the timing worked out pretty well," says Fiona.
The repairer puts the key back in the lockbox and lets us know that it's all ready to go again.
6: The car gets back to work
We're just as keen as car owners are to get cars back on the road and ready for bookings as soon as possible. When the car has been repaired and returned, we make it 'live' again on the fleet map, ready to start earning money again.
Because it's real life, and real life has a habit of not following neatly numbered lists, sometimes this process is tweaked to match the circumstances. In all cases, though, our aim is to make life as easy as possible for our members and to get cars back on the road and available for bookings as soon as possible.
We ensure that owners aren't out of pocket if a borrower damages their car.
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