Zipcar Demand Bursts at the Seams

Posted by Stacey L. Pietrowicz

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With Massachusetts now in Phase III, Step 1 of the COVID shutdown reopening process, many businesses, including ride share companies, are opening their doors. Following months of being mostly homebound and adapting to the “new normal,” Massachusetts residents are changing behavior as they re-enter the workplace and marketplace. One such change, as reported by the Boston Globe, is evident in the increased demand for Zipcar vehicles. 

According to the Globe, despite the availability of more than a thousand Zipcar-managed vehicles in greater Boston, vehicle availability has been sparse and customer service complaints numerous in the months since economic COVID restrictions were put in place. Since March, transportation needs in Boston have changed drastically with many business shuttered or being managed remotely. Ridership on public transportation plummeted, initially resulting in reduced transit schedules, and, as discussed in a May 2020 SUGARMAN blog post, roadway congestion was reduced with fewer people traveling to work.   

There are new signs of life in the city, however, and traffic congestion is returning. With ongoing social distancing measures in place, many people feel that individual vehicles are safer than public transportation. While using car-share vehicles like Zipcar might afford travelers more control over sanitizing and crowd control, traveling by car does not guarantee safety. As previously reported, motor vehicle accident deaths doubled in April during the coronavirus shut down. With collisions continuing to interrupt traffic flow, protection from liability is an important consideration in any travel mode decision. 

Under Massachusetts law, every car registered with the Commonwealth is required to carry motor vehicle insurance with liability limits in the amount of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Such low coverage is not likely sufficient for any significant losses resulting from a car crash. Under its member contract, which is available online, Zipcar provides third-party liability coverage only equivalent to state-mandated minimums. That means that unless Zipcar drivers have a secondary private insurance plan, they may be personally exposed if they cause an accident, and persons injured in accidents with Zipcars may be underinsured if someone else injures them. 

Obtaining recovery from insurance companies following an accident can be a daunting and complicated task. Where limited insurance coverage exists, alternate avenues to recovery may be explored. SUGARMAN attorneys have extensive experience in navigating insurance claims and we are here to help. If you or someone you know has suffered injury as a result of a car accident, call us today at 617-542-1000 or email us at info@sugarman.com.