As the new year begins, so does a new law in Maryland that targets peer-to-peer (P2P) car sharing. A P2P car sharing program is a process in which existing car owners make their vehicles available for others to rent for short periods of time. The business model is similar to traditional car clubs such as Streetcar or Zipcar, but replaces a typical fleet with a “virtual” one made up of vehicles from participating owners—think Airbnb or VRBO for cars.
The regulatory framework for the P2P private car rental market in Maryland requires P2P car rental companies comply with state tax, insurance, and safety laws and regulations. The law, SB743, also stipulates the following: P2P carsharing companies operating at airports are subject to airport contracts and airport fees; these companies must hold a limited lines license under Maryland’s laws to sell insurance regulated products; these companies must comply with the national safety recall law that grounds vehicles under open recalls; and these companies must notify their car owners that, if the vehicle has a lien against it, participation in the program may violate the terms of the contract with the lienholder.
While the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) applauds the new law, Turo—the nation’s largest P2P car sharing company—opposes it, claiming it is a technology platform and not a rental company.
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