getaroundMy first day back in San Francisco, I walked by a paper sign stapled to a utility pole advertising a pilot of a new peer-to-peer carsharing service called Getaround.  Since then, I’ve seen no other evidence of the company on the ground, so I decided to look into it a little further. The service, which allows car-owners to rent their cars to others in their neighborhood using an iPhone app, has arranged insurance coverage for the duration of rentals, covering liability, collision, and theft and a deductible of only $500, for which the car-driver (not the owner) would be responsible.  Physical key-swapping is an option, however the company also has a “Carkit” that allows renters to unlock vehicles with their iPhone.

Getaround also pays parking tickets up front, leaving the car-owner free of any headaches and the car driver responsible for reimbursing the company.  (Side note: what if the Getaround app could be integrated with the SFPark data so Getaround users could see parking availability and also detailed parking pricing information to avoid unnecessary fees?)

The company has likened itself to Airbnb, a peer-to-peer apartment rental service, allowing renters to capitalize on unused space when their room is temporarily vacant.  While some have been skeptical of the feasibility of these services, questioning individuals’ openness to sharing their own property with strangers, both companies are having initial successes and hiring.  Airbnb was nominated for a Webby award.

But back to Getaround, in a recent survey of its Twitter followers, the company found only two users who liked the concept but would not rent their own vehicle.  @ryanisnan first expressed concern, but seemed to lighten up to the idea after he was assured that Getaround basically takes all responsibility while the car is in the hands of the renter.  @Getaround responded by reiterating that they screen all drivers before allowing them to rent to ensure the driver has a safe driving record.

Have you tried it?  Would you rent your own?

- Terra Curtis