Personal Car-Share Insurance Bill Passes Key Committee Test

The possibility that Californians will be allowed to share their personal cars within car-sharing pools and receive compensation for gas, maintenance, and wear to the vehicle moved a step closer to reality yesterday, as a State Senate committee voted unanimously to approve AB 1871, a bill that would prevent car insurance companies from voiding personal insurance if vehicle owners are compensated for the use of their cars.

California Assemblymember and Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) has been working with insurance companies and fellow lawmakers to pass the legislation that in theory could dramatically change the nature of vehicle ownership for drivers participating in personal car-share. Jones and other supporters imagine the bill will pave the way for reduced car-ownership, particularly in suburban areas, as social networks or church groups, for instance, make use of private vehicles, which otherwise spend an average of 90 percent of the time idle.

Supporters contend that removing the barrier to personal car-share will be an economic help to vehicle owners and will spur entrepreneurial innovations. Personal vehicle sharing in theory could be tailored as specifically or as generally as each participant wished.

"It's technically feasible and economically viable to have an arrangement where you decide that the only people you want to share your car are your Facebook friends or some other universe that is a part of your social network," Jones told Streetsblog.

After the bill flew through the Assembly with unanimous support, Jones was optimistic the Senate would view it favorably as well. The vote at  yesterday's Senate Banking, Finance, and Insurance committee was 10-0.

According to Jones' office, the bill will likely proceed to the Senate floor for a vote in early August, though it could be sooner. If Governor Schwarzenegger signs the bill into law, theoretically by Labor Day, it would take effect January 1st, 2011.