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‘Airbnb for cars’ a step closer as Irish firm secures insurance

The Irish Times - An Irish company that hopes to become the Airbnb of car rental has reached a deal with a major motor insurer to allow the business to hit the road.

The service, created by the businessman Maurice Sheehy, enables motorists to hire out their cars when they are not using them.

Car owners who commute by public transport or bicycle, for example, leaving their cars parked outside their homes, could earn money by renting them to other drivers.

Under the agreement reached between the Wicklow-based company Fleet and Axa Insurance, renters will be offered comprehensive insurance for between €7 and €10 a day.

Owners who rented out their cars for two days a week could make €3,500 a year, according to Mr Sheehy, who said he wanted to capitalise on the growing sharing economy and make Fleet as much of a disrupter in car hire as Airbnb and Uber have been in accommodation and taxis.

The insurance offered by Axa would be separate from motorists’ own cover and would not affect their premiums or no-claims bonuses. Fleet suggests rental fees based on a car’s make, model and age.

If an owner were to rent out his or her car for €40 a day, the final cost to the person renting would be about €53 a day, once insurance and Fleet’s 10 per cent commission were included. The average daily rate for a conventional rental car is €84.

Online reviews

Mr Sheehy said cars and motorists using the service will be reviewed online in the same way that Airbnb includes reviews of properties and renters. All cars must be taxed, have passed the NCT and be less than 10 years old.

“Once people see the potential for making money from cars which are otherwise just sitting outside their houses, doing nothing, I think they will be encouraged to get on board,” he said.

So far Fleet advertises only about 50 cars, including Sheehy’s 2008 Volkswagen Golf, but he hopes to expand rapidly.

The company has been funded by private investments, including €300,000 that Sheehy raised by selling his home.