Turo Takes off in Alaska as Rental Cars Continue to Be Scarce

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Alaska has faced a rental car shortage this year, and locals are cashing in on it. The Land of the Midnight Sun isn’t alone. With a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, summer travel is on the rise and car rental companies are struggling to keep up.
The shortage has opened the door for individuals to rent their own vehicles much like renting out a home on Airbnb. Some Alaskans are even taking out car loans and investing in additional vehicles to meet the demand. Turo is a car-share booking service that’s taken off as the rental car shortages continue.
Driver’s hand on a car steering wheel with a view of trees by a rural road through the windshield.
Turo has been blowing up in Alaska

What is Turo?

While you may not have heard much about it until recently, Turo has been in business since 2010. Founder and CEO Andre Haddad started the car-sharing business in San Francisco. In 2016, Sharp Magazine reported that Turo rentals cost about 30% less than vehicles from big rental agencies.
The concept is simple. Go to the website or app, choose a vehicle you would like to rent and the dates, and book it. Turo has a policy that customers can cancel up to 24 hours in advance.
Turo’s website calls the company the “world’s largest car sharing marketplace.” Vehicles are available in every state and more than 56 countries.

Why is there a lack of rental cars in Alaska?

In May, Roberta Warner, operations manager for Alaska Tour and Travel, predicted that her company wouldn’t be able to book cars for their customers until mid-August, according to Anchorage Daily News. Normally, Alaska rental car agencies boost their inventories for the summer. Following the season, they sell off many of the extra cars.
In 2020, rental car demand was at an all-time low. As the economy recovers, the chip shortage continues to slow car production. This has in turn led to a lower-than-typical supply of rental cars available this year.
The 2021 rental demand has been relentless in Alaska and other states. More visitors have spent their time on the road rather than the more traditional cruise ship.

Alaskans seeing profit in Turo

With a lack of traditional rental cars available, car-share prices have seen a dramatic increase in rates, about 257% in Anchorage since 2019. Car owners set their own prices. They can also limit the number of miles driven in a day.
Anchorage Daily News reported that Jin Chen, who works in the travel industry, offered two vehicles on Turo for a couple of years. She purchased and added a third at the end of May. By early June, her Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Tiguan, and new BMW X6 were all booked for June and July.
Chen expected to earn $5,000 to $12,000 per car during those two months.
Like Chen, Cheyene Thomas, who works at an Anchorage car dealership, started renting out her BMW X2 on Turo. “Within five minutes I had like 10 bookings,” she said. By mid-June, it was booked through August.
The system isn’t perfect, and it comes with some risks for owners. Chen said that one out-of-state group got two flat tires near Cantwell, and she had to buy a new tire set.

How to get car insurance for Turo

Car owners are responsible for their vehicles. For hosts, Turo offers five different insurance plans through Liberty Mutual. Hosts can only decline coverage if they have commercial insurance.
Renters have a choice between four protection plans. You can opt out of the program as long as you have a personal car insurance policy that covers rentals.
If you’re looking to save money on car insurance, Jerry can help. The free app compares rates from name-brand companies to get you the best price without phone calls or long forms. If you’re confused about your coverage options, Jerry’s friendly agents can help answer your questions.

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