TORONTO — A company that has taken the Airbnb model and adapted it to car rentals launched Tuesday in three provinces, its first foray outside the U.S., though it wrestles with the same insurance headaches that other startups in the so-called sharing economy have faced.Turo, which debuted as RelayRides in 2009 and now operates in more than 2,500 cities, facilitates vehicle rentals between car owners and anyone needing a ride.People in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec hoping to make money from their cars register them online to rent them to other Turo members.Why business travellers aren’t sold on Airbnb, but rush to Uber and LyftHow crowdfunding site Klondike Strike is changing the way junior miners raise moneyFive daring disruptors win US$1.25M each to help them change the worldTuro determines the rental cost of available vehicles each day based on data like the car’s market value, location and time of year. The company pockets 25 per cent of the rental fee, which includes a charge for the owner’s insurance coverage during the rental.But provincially regulated insurance rules have made a seamless transition north of the border difficult.The limited launch Tuesday “was the most expedient way for Turo to bring peer-to-peer sharing to Canada,” said Cedric Mathieu, Turo’s director of Canada, in an emailed statement.Turo has partnered with Intact Financial Corp. and Belairdirect to provide insurance for Canadian clients, a move that will make the service more attractive to customers, said CEO Andre Haddad.Anyone living in or visiting Alberta, Ontario and Quebec — and approved by Turo’s verification system, which takes into account driving history — can rent a vehicle. They can choose to opt out of insurance, or add basic or premium coverage when renting — at 15 or 40 per cent of the trip’s price. Any claims that arise from a Turo car rental have no impact on the owner’s personal insurance, said Stephanie Sorensen, director of external communications and corporate social responsibility for Intact.But it’s not so simple for people looking to rent out their cars, as insurance companies grapple with how to provide coverage.Only car owners insured by Intact Insurance and Belairdirect who live in those three provinces can list their vehicles on Turo. The insurers have modified their offerings to allow their customers to rent out their vehicles, said Mathieu.“Moving forward, we are working with other leading Canadian insurers to modify their terms and conditions to enable their customers to also participate in peer-to-peer car sharing,” he said. The company also plans to move to other provinces and is “working with each province’s unique insurance laws and regulatory framework to make this happen,” said Mathieu.The insurance issue is one that has consistently cropped up for companies that have aimed to disrupt more traditional business models.Ride-hailing service Uber recently temporarily suspended operations in Edmonton and Calgary after the Alberta government announced it would not make insurance available to drivers until the summer and require them to hold a commercial licence.Airbnb, which allows people to rent a portion or all of their home to travellers, hit a stumbling block when some homeowners complained their places were trashed. One Calgary family, for example, were left with $75,000 in damage following a raging house party.Airbnb, which offers up to $1 million for property damage in certain situations, said it would pay for the repairs.
THE CABINET AGREEMENT on implementing minimum alcohol pricing – a price below which alcohol cannot be sold – has been welcomed.Alcohol Action Ireland has broadly welcomed the government’s plan to tackle alcohol misuse in Ireland, with the Cabinet yesterday agreeing on proposals including a watershed on advertising drinks and separating displays from other products in retail outlets.“Introducing a minimum price for alcohol in conjunction with Northern Ireland will target the very cheapest alcohol products, which are those favoured by the heaviest and most harmful drinkers among us, as well as our young people,” said Suzanne Costello, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland.However, the proposal to ban alcohol companies’ sponsorship of sports teams and events is to be delayed until alternative sources of funding can be found, with a working group set up to consider the issue over the next year.This issue has been the subject of significant lobbying from the sports industry as well as politicians who have argued that loss of funding from drinks companies could be detrimental to sport in this country.Junior Minister Brian Hayes said last week that the coalition is keeping a “close eye” on minimum pricing being introduced in Scotland, which is currently being considered by the European Commission after five European countries argued that the policy is illegal.However, the government here now appears likely to push ahead with plans for minimum pricing in legislation that could be published as early as this week.Other proposals are likely to include a ban on alcohol ads before the 9pm watershed on television, distinct labelling with information on alcoholic strength and calories, and separating the display of alcoholic drinks from other products in supermarkets and retail outlets.Costello added: “Alcohol is not a grocery and it’s time we stopped treating it like one. Labelling is also a very positive move in this regard as it will, for the first time, include clear warnings on alcohol products sold in Ireland about the dangers which alcohol poses to our health, as well as information regarding the strength and calorie content of the alcohol product.”Like politics? Then why not ‘Like’ TheJournal.ie’s Politics page?Previously: Cabinet close to agreement on alcohol strategy, but sponsorship ban will be deferredRead: Publicans want ‘lid levy’ to replace losses from alcohol sports sponsorship ban