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Share with care: Know the risks before you share a home or ride

9/26/2016 11:53:25 AM

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL – Every day, more Minnesotans are participating in the “sharing economy,” where individuals buy, sell or rent goods and services from one another, often through an online platform. 

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans have used at least one kind of shared or on-demand service such as ride-sharing or short-term home rentals.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is encouraging Minnesotans to be aware of the financial risks and potential need for insurance when using or offering these shared services.

“It is important for people to protect themselves and understand the insurance considerations in these new types of transactions,” said Rothman, whose agency regulates the insurance industry in the state. “The sharing economy offers new and exciting opportunities, but also new financial risks. We encourage Minnesota consumers to share with care.”

Rothman offers the following tips on home-sharing and ride-sharing services:

Home Sweet Home

Home-sharing offers a person the opportunity to rent out a room or an entire home for extra income. Guests find the property online through a service like Airbnb or VRBO and then pay for it like a hotel, except the property is a privately-owned home, apartment or condo.

Purchase the right coverage. If you regularly rent out a room for a profit, it may be considered a home-based business. Many homeowners insurance policies will not cover property damage caused by paying guests, or injuries they may suffer. You should talk to the home-sharing service and your own insurance agent to determine if additional liability coverage or special landlord insurance is needed.

Review your personal policies. If you plan to stay in accommodations secured through an online home-sharing service, confirm that your own homeowners, renters or personal liability insurance will offer protection for potential damages to the rental property.

Check the terms of use. Home-sharing user agreements change often. Read the fine print every time you book a stay.

On the Road

Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft connect individual drivers with people who need rides. Passengers and drivers can screen each other, schedule rides and pay electronically.

Ask your insurer. Before contracting as a driver with a ride-sharing service, consult your insurer. Personal auto insurance typically excludes coverage for business use or commercial activity.

Review the company's policies and fill any gaps. Minnesota law requires specific levels of coverage for drivers of ride-sharing companies from the moment they are logged on to the company's digital network to the end of a prearranged ride. Different ride-sharing companies provide different kinds and levels of insurance to their drivers. Drivers should check with both their company and their insurance agent to make sure there are no coverage gaps.

Research before riding. Before accepting a shared ride, know what protection you have in the event of an accident. Most ride-sharing companies have liability policies to cover any passenger injuries. If injured while riding, report a claim with both the driver's insurer and the ride-sharing company’s insurer.

Commerce is here to help

If you have a question or concern about your insurance, contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

Media Contact:
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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