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How car owners can make £500 a week

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Thousands of car owners are signing up to peer-to-peer car rental websites as a way of making some extra cash.

If you have a car sitting on your driveway while you’re at work, or a spare motor gathering dust in the garage, you could make as much as £500 a week by embracing the ‘sharing economy’ and hiring out your vehicle.

Research from the RAC Foundation suggests owners only drive their cars 4% of the time.

A number of peer-to-peer car rental companies have sprung up in recent years, filling the gap between traditional pricey car hire, and car clubs with their own fleet of vehicles.

By renting out your car you could net anything from £1,000 a year to £500 a week, depending on its specification and the rental periods you sign up for.

With 5,000 car owners registered, EasyCar Club is the biggest player in the market. Other sites include Ridelink, with its 2,000 registered car owners, and Hiyacar, with 400.

Here’s how peer-to-peer car rental sites work:

How do I rent out my car?

As a car owner, it’s free to register your vehicle. You’ll need to give details about the car model, mileage, value and age. The website will charge you a fee or commission based on the price you obtain from the rental.

The amount of commission varies between the sites.

EasyCar Club takes 10% of what the owner earns, plus VAT, Hiyacar takes 20%, and Ridelink charges 30% commission of the total price of each rental.

With each site, you specify how long you want to rent your car out for; anything from a minimum of one hour (Hiyacar only) to a month.

Once you’ve uploaded your profile, you’ll be contacted by interested car renters directly and you can accept or decline requests. In a similar way to being a seller on eBay, you want and need to accrue positive reviews from your renters. These will give you more freedom to set the price of the rental.

It’s worth noting that EasyCar Club’s insurance terms mean people who rent cars can only use them in the UK, whereas with Hiyacar and Ridelink, their insurance covers renters to drive in the EU. You need to think carefully if you’re happy for your car to accrue all the additional mileage.

You’ll usually need to hand over the keys in person as you’ll both have a contract or agreement to sign, though with Hiyacar, the agreement is done electronically. When the car is delivered back to you, it’s best to check it over for damage.

Will someone else driving my car affect my insurance?

All three car rental companies have separate or third party insurance cover. This means your existing policy is unaffected if the person renting your car has an accident. Your no claims bonus should also be protected.

People renting out your car need to put down a hefty deposit or excess and any damages or parking tickets are reclaimed from that sum.

EasyCar Club’s insurance is underwritten by Admiral. You would deal with them directly if you needed to make a claim, and you would not need to inform your own insurer. However, the firm advises potential customers to check their insurance policy to ensure there aren’t any restrictions in renting out their car. If you use telematics technology for example, there’s often an exclusion about renting.

Hiyacar’s insurance is underwritten by Axa and it told us that car owners don’t need to notify their current insurer as its policy “supersedes the car owners’ for the duration of the hire period. This means that personal policies are never affected.” Further, it supplies a telematics box to each car so the driving patterns are recorded for the owner’s “peace of mind”.

Ridelink is partnered with Allianz and in the case of an accident, it told us it will “take care of evaluating damages and will cover costs over the excess when needed. Since all renters pay online, we have their details to be able to charge any fees related to any damage.”

It’s worth finding out if the rental company will offer you a courtesy replacement car in the event an accident takes your car off the road for any period of time.

How do I know I’m not hiring my car to a boy racer?

All sites have specifications that potential renters must meet.

EasyCar Club states that all drivers must have held a full licence for a minimum of 12 months and those aged 21-25 must have held a licence for a minimum of 36 months.

For Hiyacar, the minimum age is 23 and drivers aged 23-24 need to have 24 months driving history. It allows a maximum of six penalty points on driving licences.

Ridelink renters need to be at least 21 and they need to have a minimum of 24 months driving history, plus they can have no more than one offence or three penalty points on their licence.

Remember, you can reject any requests.

Do I need to meet any criteria to rent out my car?

EasyCar Club says cars must be less than 15 years old, have a mileage below 120,000 and a replacement value of £40k or less.

Hiyacar only accepts cars that are eight years or younger, and they can only be up to insurance group 44 so excludes any supercars or classics.

Ridelink says vehicles need to have a current market value of between £1,500 and £100,000.

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