The Senate approved a bill Monday to align car sharing transactions with the traditional rental car industry.
Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry‘s SB 566 sets standards for taxes, insurance, and minimum maintenance record requirements for people who rent their private vehicles on internet platforms such as Turo, GetAround, and Avail, to allow them to compete with traditional rental car companies like Enterprise or Avis.
Support was not unanimous. The Senate approved it 28-12 over objections that the insurance standards essentially are bare minimums of Florida law, and that the bill does not provide enough to assure public safety when private individuals are turning over their personal cars to strangers to drive. The no votes came mostly, but not exclusively, from Democrats.
“This is a bill that brings parity between peer-to-peer car sharing and regular rental car companies, regarding taxation, insurance and consumer protection,” Perry offered.
Yet that parity means private individuals could put vehicles, even high-performance cars like Lamborghinis, into the commercial stream with no significant requirements for maintenance, and with insurance requirements of only $20,000 for total injury liability, argued Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg.
The bill also protects the owner of the vehicle from any vicarious liability claims, meaning if the driver who rented the car does something terribly harmful, the owner is not at fault for giving him the keys, beyond the insurance he might carry.
“I have voted against this bill twice in two separate committees, and it has not gotten any better,” Rouson said. “This bill is not good for public safety.”
Florida airports, which are struggling to accommodate peer-to-peer car sharing operations the same way they do rental car companies, are also raising concern. Federal laws make it complicated, requiring airports to do the same for all its on-property vendors. Rental car companies want car-sharing operations to sign the same kinds of contracts they have, with various requirements including fees paid to the airports, where the vast majority of car rentals take place. But the peer-to-peer platforms haven’t reached such agreements with most airports, yet still are finding their own ways to make cars available to people arriving at airports. At several major airports, contract negotiations have stalled. At least one lawsuit, involving Tampa International Airport, is being waged.
“Our airports do need consistency and accountability of having having agreements that are similar. … But this is a bill I’m definitely supporting and look forward to working on this issue next Session,” said Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, one of the few Democrats to vote yes.
Perry agreed that he too looks forward to working on the airport issue next year.