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New way to make extra cash: Rent out your car

Cars thcan be rented by people Chicago beginning tomorrow. Getaround is letting people rent out their cars make money. |

Cars that can be rented by people in Chicago beginning tomorrow. Getaround is letting people rent out their cars to make money. | Provided photos

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Updated: October 21, 2012 2:46PM

For $15 an hour or $90 for the day, you can rent David Qasem’s 2012 Acura TSX.

Well, who is he? He’s not a dealership guy, or a rental company employee. He’s a 25-year-old Lake View man willing to let strangers rent his car for some extra cash. And he’s banking in hundreds a month for sharing.

Getaround, a peer-to-peer car-sharing company, launches in Chicago on Thursday, although it’s already undergone weeks of testing and has 220 cars ready to rent. The company’s up and running in San Francisco, Austin, Portland and San Diego. More than 10,000 car owners have put their cars up for rent nationwide.

It’s just like it sounds. It means you as a car owner have to trust another driver, sometimes a stranger, to take care of your baby.

But Qasem says he’s used to sharing things. He also rents out a room, sometimes nightly, in his Lakeview apartment via an apartment sharing company. And he says he is not worried about the damage drivers could incur to his brand new car: Getaround provides up to $1 million worth of liability insurance coverage on the cars when they’re being rented. And the insurance coverage is provided by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

“I just believe in the [Chicago] community and hope that the feedback system works and being backed by Berkshire, I trust Warren Buffett can pay out a claim,” Qasem said. “If people kind of screw you, you’ll still have the insurance to back you.”

Prices range from $3 to $15 an hour and are set by the owner. On average, car owners make about $350 a month. Qasem said he has made at least $200 within weeks.

The company is catered to owners who don’t need vehicles all day. Some drive to work, park all day and head home. On average 250 million vehicles in the U.S. are idle an average 22 hours a day. And the company says it’s targeting congestion, as well; each car share takes 13 cars off the road.

The city’s Department of Transportation says it strongly supports the “sharing economy.”

“Car-sharing services provide congestion relief and environmental benefits by taking cars off of the road,” spokesman Pete Scales said. “These services also provide Chicagoans who either don’t want a car or can’t afford to own one the opportunity to use a car when they need it.”

Here’s how it works. Car owners sign up and undergo “rigorous driver screening” to confirm a safe driving record. The company also conducts identity verification. The car and its rates are listed, along with a map of where drivers can pick up keys.

The site also offers comments. A woman in San Francisco complained of the grinding noise a Nissan Xterra made as she drove it, along with a headlight that went out, forcing her to ditch the car and take a bus home. Others left positive comments about the car or renter, and wrote that they’d choose the same car for future trips.

What about a mean guy wanting to rent your brand new car? Or someone who doesn’t look trustworthy? Jessica Scorpio, co-founder of Getaround, says car owners have full control over who to rent to and can say no at any time.

“We tell owners that they can also do their due diligence,” Scorpio said. “If there’s ever any doubt, don’t share the car. Call us and say you don’t want to share with a certain person. It never really happens but it’s good to know that they have that option.”

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