The UK carsharing community is facing an insurance crisis, with clubs across the country struggling to find an insurer to cover themselves.
Some groups are being forced to disband and even take cars off the road after several insurers refuse to provide coverage, often with little explanation.
In Leeds, Alison Phelps’ local automobile club was forced to take two of its three cars off the road earlier this month after a rush to find new insurance coverage ended in disappointment .
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Now the club, which has 16 drivers all living within half a mile of each other, has been forced to split into three groups with four named drivers for each vehicle.
This is a very different setup from the old three-car collective system that any member could drive at any time.
It “ruins the whole idea of a co-op,” said Ms. Phelps, a retired university teacher. I. “We would much prefer to be a collective group.
Auto clubs across the country are increasingly facing the same problem, according to Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK shared transport charity, who told me that the problem had worsened over the past year.
“It’s a national problem from what we can understand, unfortunately there are a number of regimes in this position,” he said. I.
New car clubs are particularly struggling to find coverage, he said, with some groups having purchased cars that are now “stranded” without insurance. This is a “big obstacle” to launching new programs, he said.
Transport is the UK’s biggest source of carbon emissions, and passenger cars contribute most of this pollution. Climate experts say expanding car club use would reduce emissions by making car use more efficient – part of the so-called sharing economy.
The average British car spends 96% of its life parked. The campaign group Transport and environment estimates that an area of the country the size of Birmingham is dedicated to parking the country’s private car fleet, many of which go unused for days. He calls on the Ministry of Transportation to make the expansion of automobile clubs a “political priority” under the government’s net zero program.
It’s unclear why insurers become so reluctant to offer coverage, with denials extending even to groups without a history of claims.
The Marmalade Lane co-housing community near Cambridge has had a running car club since 2019. The club now has 16 households sharing two cars, with plans to acquire a third soon.
But the group’s expansion ambitions were jeopardized earlier this year when their insurer refused to renew their coverage, despite the group having two years without a claim.
“It’s been quite a few stressful weeks that we had expansion plans and no insurers,” club member Frances Wright said. I. “It was really frustrating.”
Eventually the group found cover, costing £ 2,000 per car, but Ms Wright fears the task of finding insurance will prevent new clubs from forming.
“This is going to limit community-led initiatives, which are actually quite important,” she said.
“Trade clubs will not go to all parts of the country. So, especially for rural areas, this is a really limiting factor.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: “We are aware of the issues some plans face and are working with our members, brokers and CoMo to understand this in more detail and identify potential solutions.