Renting your ride: Airbnb of car rentals comes to B.C.
Look out Avis, Budget and Enterprise. Traditional car rental companies now have some new competition in Vancouver.
Turo, which is being touted as the Airbnb of car rentals, has officially launched in B.C. But it could be in for a bumpy ride due to the high cost of insurance.
The service lets car owners looking to make some extra cash rent out their personal vehicles. The cars must be model year 2005 or newer, have fewer than 200,000 kilometres, and have a clean title.
Potential renters can download the Turo app or go to the website to search through the list of options they can rent by the day, week or month.
Turo first came to Canada in 2016, operating in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. The company says the average car owner makes about $650 a month through the service.
"I was going to sell the car but that's when I heard Turo was coming to Canada,” said Calgarian Ryan McCourt.
McCourt says Turo saved him from having to sell his vehicle after he was laid off his job.
Turo is relatively new in Canada, but has been operating in the U.S. for seven years where some car owners there have been able to make some serious cash.
I've been doing it for 3 years and it's helped me pay off my car," said Jennifer Simpson of Washington, D.C.
But in Canada things operate a bit differently. Turo works in provinces that have private insurance systems. However, ICBC requires owners in B.C. to buy their own commercial insurance, called U-Drive when they want to rent their personal vehicle. And it’s very expensive.
An ICBC broker says a 2015 Toyota Prius would cost around $2,000 a year to insure for typical business use. It will cost you three times as much, around $6,000, when you get the “U-Drive” insurance to rent your vehicle on Turo,
“To bring Turo to the people of British Columbia, we had to tweak the model a little bit,” said Cedric Mathieu, the director of Turo Canada.
In order to get the app launched, the company partnered with smaller independent car rental companies that can afford the higher insurance rates.
Of the 70 vehicles for rent on Turo in B.C., only two are currently personal vehicles.
The provincial government says insurance premiums need to reflect risk, but the Attorney General David Eby is willing to listen to Turo’s pitch.
“We’re going to start those discussions with the legislators right now,” explained Mathieu.
Those changes may take awhile, but the timing could be right since the government is already making changes to open the door to ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.