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How does Zipcar insurance work?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Zipcar is a popular web-based rental car service available in U.S. cities and around the globe. After becoming a member, you can quickly reserve a car and pick it up from a designated location.

Just like any other rental, you’re on the hook for damages to the Zipcar while it’s in use. Although Zipcar offers specialized insurance coverage for its rental cars, it may not be enough.

We’ll walk through Zipcar insurance and how your personal auto insurance covers rental cars

Does personal auto insurance cover Zipcar?

Zipcar is designed for licensed drivers who don’t own a car. Because most people who don’t own a car also don’t have car insurance, Zipcar automatically provides insurance for its members. Having a membership is the only Zipcar requirement for insurance.

Zipcar provides the legal minimum insurance coverage for its drivers. Because of this, it doesn’t provide comprehensive or collision coverage to your rental. If you have your own auto insurance policy, then you may be in luck. More than likely, your policy will extend coverage to your Zipcar. However, you’ll want to check with your insurance carrier to make sure.

If your provider does extend coverage to your rental, then your personal liability could be a lifesaver in the event of an at-fault accident where injuries and damages would have exceeded the minimum limit of the Zipcar insurance coverage. And if you have full coverage auto insurance, then your collision and comprehensive may apply to the Zipcar too.

What coverage does Zipcar insurance provide?

Zipcar provides insurance coverage for liability damage and injuries to you and anyone in your vehicle if the state requires it. Although Zipcar insurance will change from state to state, here are the common coverages included in Zipcar’s insurance coverage: 

  • Bodily injury liability: This coverage pays for injuries to others if the Zipcar driver is found at fault in an accident. For example, if you run a stop sign and cause an accident, this coverage would pay for injuries sustained by the people in the other car. 
  • Property damage liability: This coverage pays for property damage caused by the Zipcar driver. Usually, the property that’s damaged is the other driver’s car, but property damage can also mean things like fences and telephone poles. For example, if you plow into someone’s front yard and destroy a fence, this coverage would pay for it. 
  • Personal injury protection/medical payments: This coverage pays the medical bills of you and passengers in your car after an accident. For example, if you need physical therapy after an accident, this coverage might pay for it. Zipcar only provides this coverage in states where it’s legally required to do so. 
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: This coverage pays for your expenses after an accident when the other driver is at fault and uninsured or underinsured. For example, if an uninsured driver runs a stop sign and causes an accident that injures you, this coverage would pay for the resulting expenses like medical bills and loss of wages.

Zipcar coverage has changed over time

Zipcar insurance rules have changed over the years, and some Zipcar drivers may get more insurance than the state minimum if they signed up for a Zipcar membership before July 31, 2018.

Zipcar members who signed up between March 1, 2015, and July 31, 2018, have liability coverage up to $100,000 for every injured person, with a coverage limit of $300,000. In addition, the policy includes property damage coverage up to $25,000.

Zipcar members who signed up before March 1, 2015 have a single liability limit of $300,000. This policy has no limit on how the funds can be disbursed after an accident. 

What happens when you damage a Zipcar?

Zipcar drivers are responsible for damage to the Zipcar while they’re using it. The company builds in a $1,000 “damage fee” that must be paid, even if the damage to the car is less than $1,000. Zipcar does not count normal wear and tear as damage to the rental car. 

The company also offers damage protection plans at an additional cost. Members can sign up for a monthly damage protection plan to reduce or remove the Zipcar damage fee. To be eligible for a damage protection plan, you must be at least 18-years-old and without a Zipcar accident in the last 12 months. 

Zipcar offers three different damage protection plans:

  • Standard protection: This plan is included in the basic Zipcar membership and requires a $1,000 fee if damage to the rental occurs. Standard protection is free-of-charge.
  • Plus protection: This plan reduces the damage fee to $375 per incident. Plus protection is available for $5 per month or $50 per year. 
  • Premium protection: This plan removes damage fees altogether, so members will not have to pay a fee if they damage the car. Premium protection is available for $9 per month or $79 per year. 

Zipcar protection plans can be easily purchased either through the Zipcar mobile app or by logging into your account page on the company website.

It’s important to note that your personal auto insurance policy will not cover any Zipcar damage unless you have collision or comprehensive coverage. And even then, you’ll need to check with your provider to make sure your policy will extend to rental cars

The takeaway

Zipcar insurance is automatic, but personal insurance policies offer greater protection. 

  • Zipcar insurance only covers members up to the state minimum.
  • Personal auto insurance can protect Zipcar drivers in costly accidents.
  • Check with your insurance provider to see how they handle rentals. 

Zipcars are a great way for licensed non-car owners to get around. They’re also helpful options when you’re out of town and need a car. But you’re responsible for any damage to the Zipcar while using it. 

The state minimum auto insurance is included in a Zipcar membership. But if you have a personal auto insurance policy, then it might give you better coverage. Check to see what your policy covers and how it can help reduce the risk of driving a Zipcar.

Julian Dossett

Julian is a freelance writer for Coverage.com, where he writes about auto and home insurance with an eye toward consumer advocacy. His work has appeared at The Simple Dollar, Bankrate, Reviews.com, Blockchain Beach and MSN.com. He’s currently based in New Mexico.

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