The Law Is on Our Side (Because We Helped Write It)
Getaround is a car-sharing marketplace on which car owners can rent their vehicles to anyone else in the program. Jessica Scorpio and her co-founders, Sam Zaid and Elliot Kroo, struggled for two years to get the company going, largely because of a massive roadblock: Insurance coverage for renting a car to a stranger didn't exist. As told to Christine Lagorio.
We knew insurance would be our main problem. But we had connections to the insurance industry, and we thought they would get it. Peter Diamandis at Singularity University introduced us to senior people at insurance companies, and they listened.
Then we got some investment money, and we called all these people back and said, "Hey, we're a real company now! How do we get this done?" Everyone seemed to chew on it for a couple of weeks. If you don't get bids, you get a letter back that says, "We regret to inform you that we will not provide insurance coverage for this operation." We got tons of those.
The major sticking point insurance companies had was, What's going to happen when there's an accident and we're unsure whether the car owner's insurance covers it or if this policy covers it? We were like, "This covers it, always. That's what we're paying you for." They said, "Well, that's not clear."
We thought, What if we had a law?
So we started to plant the seeds in Sacramento. Democrats really like it because it's green; Republicans really like it because it's small business.
The California law is AB 1871. It says that when participating in a personal-vehicle-sharing program, the car owner's insurance is never going to be affected. An owner can make up to the value of the car—say, $10,000 a year for a normal vehicle—from renting it, but the car-sharing organization has to provide the insurance during the car-share period. That's really what tipped the scales and made Berkshire Hathaway feel comfortable insuring us. Now three states have laws, and more are thinking about it on their own. We've launched Getaround in four cities.
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.