I’m a huge fan of on-demand applications. Although apps like Postmates and Amazon Now have made me lazier, some apps like Turo have made me a lot of money. I learned early on that people want things instantly and will pay more to have something quicker and with fewer hassles. That’s part of the reason why so many people do so well on Amazon and why reselling is so big these days. However, other on-demand apps exist and help people make money with minimal effort.
Like Airbnb does with houses, Turo (formerly known as RelayRides) is an application that enables people to rent out their second car that they might not be using to other users. I stumbled upon this app last January and immediately saw the potential in it. While buggy, the interface is very easy to use. Many people list their cars on the site but at the same time, don’t really know how to price them. I suspect it’s because they think their car is worth more than it really is. This actually helps me out because I’m able to undercut the market and rent out my cars more often. A car that isn’t rented doesn’t make me any money.
In January 2015, I started to list my cars on Turo. Initially, I listed my BMW 3 Series Hybrid on the site and it started to get rented quite often. By the end of February, my BMW was rented 29/30 days and continued that trend till December 2015. Often times, it was rented on a monthly basis to some users. From January 2015 to January 2016, I was able to add 13 new vehicles to my “fleet” and business seemed to be booming. With a combination of market research and smart pricing, my cars were getting rented with around 90% utilization.
Fast forward to my rental on December 20th, 2015. A d
*****bag man by the name of Peter sent in a request to rent my vehicle at 2AM. I responded to him immediately and told him that the lot in which we keep our cars would not open until 8AM and that he would have to wait until then. Initially, he paid extra to have my car delivered to an address, but I wasn’t in California and had no means to do this. I explained that I would call him an Uber to the lot from his house so that he could pick up the car. He responded by saying, “No worries, I’ll go pickup the vehicle myself.” I tried calling him to explain the details but the phone line went straight to a busy tone. I didn’t think much of it and fell asleep.
In the morning, I got the email that my vehicle had been picked up from the lot and that everything was good to go. The rental was for a duration of 2 days and on the 2nd day, “Peter” asked for a date extension. I happily agreed to the extension and didn’t think much of it until later that night when I re-checked his rental and noticed that there was no extension made. I called the number listed in his file and no one answered. At this point, I should have gotten more worried but I genuinely thought that the renter was confused or busy as many people who rent from me are first time users and don’t quite understand how Turo operates.
I let the rental go into the next morning and when I realized that the vehicle hadn’t been returned to the lot, I started to get worried. All of my vehicles are equipped with tracking systems except for the BMW 3 series. I assumed that because the car already had tracking through BMW, I didn’t have to buy a supplementary system.
Around 3PM on the 24th, I sent out an email to Turo and also called BMW to see whether they could track the vehicle for me. Unfortunately, BMW seems to be one of the worst companies to deal with when you either have your car stolen or if you get locked out of your car. I have a Chevy Cruze that not only tracks the location of the car in real-time but also lets you unlock the car from your phone. However, this BMW that costs 4 times more will not let you track or unlock the vehicle in the app. It’s absolutely ridiculous and, in my opinion, needs to be changed.
At 5PM on December 24th, I received word back from Turo that the renter in question was in fact trying to steal my vehicle. They built an entire case file on “Peter” that showed he used a fake ID and tried to use a bunch of different stolen credit cards until one of them approved. He also didn’t pass the verification test so he was forced to take a picture of himself next to his fake driver’s license.
I immediately took this information to my local police station and filed a stolen vehicle report. Within minutes, I received a stolen vehicle ID number that BMW wanted in order to process my claim. After giving BMW the ID number, they were able to start tracking the car and easily found it within 10 minutes. However, they still wouldn’t tell me where it was and wouldn’t even tell me that they found it. I had to call the police station again for them to tell me that the vehicle was recovered and taken to the impound lot.
The next morning, I drove over to the impound lot to retrieve my car, paying the $280 fee to get it out. It was immediately towed to the service center, where the technicians found a number of items missing and burn marks from cigarettes on both seats. In addition, the outside bumpers were damaged and the side door was bent inwards to the point where it didn’t close properly. The wheels were scraped and the tires were bald to the thread.
All in all, the car seemed like it didn’t take on too much damage and I was lucky that this guy didn’t take the entire engine and other parts from it.
Dealing With Turo/Insurance
Many people wonder about how insurance works with Turo. The truth is that you have to have your own insurance on the car but it will never be used if renting out with Turo. Not only does Turo offer a $1 million liability policy, but they also cover all damage to your vehicle when it is rented. I didn’t have to notify my insurance or go through them at all for this claim. Many people will ask me what happens if a renter hits someone else and the claim goes over $1 million. My honest answer is that “I just don’t know.” I also have my cars contracted out under my business corporation so that it forms another barrier against something like that affecting me personally. I will not get into the process of those questions in the comments so please do not ask me. If you have questions about what happens after the liability policy expires or if your car is totaled, please email email@example.com instead.
Throughout the entire process, Turo was constantly emailing me and following up with me. Mike, the agent assigned to my case, was extremely understanding and caring to the point where he even gave me his personal number in case I needed anything. I’ve heard horror stories about insurance claims with Turo and getting them to reimburse people but I felt nothing of that nature. Everything was going smoothly. Since it was Christmas, I didn’t want to bother him too much and waited a couple days till he got back to work to continue the claims process.
Mike immediately reimbursed me for the impound fee and the cost of a new key that I had to buy from BMW. He also gave me $250 towards cleaning the car and getting the smell of smoke out. The following day, he gave me another $300 to rent a car for the week.
Eventually, the estimate came in and it was north of $10,000 to fix all the damage. I sent it over to Mike, who had to have his appraiser come out and assess the damage. Once the appraiser approved the amount, Turo sent out the check to me for the repairs! It was completely pain-free and incredibly easy to deal with. I’m also really happy they sent the check to me instead of the repair shop because now I can pay for the repairs with my credit card and earn points!
Once my car is fixed, I’m going to sell it. I don’t know why but I just feel weird driving a car around that someone else purposely stole from me and violated. Even though it’s repaired, I’m still weary of any issues that might pop up in the future. The car also racked up a number of miles from the rental process since I left my driving limit at unlimited miles. In any case, I’ve been wanting to get the new Stormtrooper Range Rover and this might be the perfect opportunity once I sell!
Overall Takeaway & Advice
I never thought that a car would be stolen from me. Regardless of how it happened, someone took my car. It’s a very odd feeling but at the end of the day, things like this happen. My biggest advice would be to stay calm and think rationally. My mom was going absolutely crazy and kept trying to make me go crazy with her. She had her conspiracy theories that he was using my car to rob someone and it would come back to me or that somehow, someway, I would get arrested for the crimes committed using my car. Just distance yourself from crazy people who freak out more than you and know that cars can be replaced. I realized early on that I had to be super calm because eventually, my car would be found — and if it wasn’t, well, that’s what insurance is for. If you deal with things in a passive manner, you’ll see that everything just falls into place regardless. When it comes to dealing with Turo, I am extremely satisfied with their response and how they handled the situation. No doubt, it must have been tough for them to see something like this happen on their app after they verified and let someone blatantly steal a car. However, I’m really pleased with how everything worked out.
In the coming days, I’ll be posting about my analysis with renting cars out on Turo and how the process works.
In the meantime, here’s my referral link to rent a car on Turo. I don’t refer people often so i’m not sure what it really gets you. It’s probably a credit towards renting a car for some amount off. I also most probably earn the same amount as you after you complete the rental. Feel free to also rent one of my cars if you’re going to be in Los Angeles soon. Don’t worry, the stolen one isn’t going to get rented for a while.