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Monday, 20 December 2010 11:48

Car Sharing Clubs – an alternative to car ownership.

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One of the fastest growing areas of the national transport infrastructure is the car sharing club. People outside of London may not be immediately familiar with these, but the growth of this sector in a reasonably short period of time means that if you live in a city or town, and there’s not already a car club near you, there probably soon will be. Big Brand car clubs such as Streetcar, City car club and Zip car are amongst the best-known but there are many other networks in different towns across the UK now. Car clubs enable members to access cars which are usually parked at the roadside in designated bays in urban areas. The parking spaces are reserved exclusively for the car club in question, an added bonus which also makes car club vehicles on of the easiest types of cars to find parking for in many of the town in which they operate.

According to Car Plus (the national charity that promotes the use of car sharing and car clubs in the UK) there were just 32,000 members of Car Clubs in the UK at the end of 2007. By February 2010 this had shot up to nearly 113,000 – that’s an increase of over 350% in less than three years! The first car clubs in the UK started in London, and whilst over 80% of members are still London based the concept is now broadening its reach into other areas of the UK. There are now over 2,200 car share vehicles in over 40 towns and cities across the UK and this number only seems to be going in one direction.

Membership rules differ, but users typically pay a joining fee, a fixed membership fee per month and then pay per hour each time they use a car. As Car Clubs tend to be based in urban areas where other transport options are good people often tend to join car clubs when they only need to use a car every now and again. According to Car Plus, 70% of car club members use a car less than once a week and with this type of infrequent car use owning a car can be a very expensive investment and car clubs offer people the flexibility of a car when it’s needed without the costs of having to own a vehicle outright.

Car clubs are not only an economic answer to motoring, research from Car Plus also indicates that membership also has some environmental benefits too. Firstly they claim that the average Car Club vehicle tends to be more efficient than the average private vehicle, but also the Car Plus annual survey in 2010 shows that many people who join claim to have sold their private vehicle as a result of membership, or have not had to buy a car that they otherwise would have bought if they were not a member – Car Plus estimates that as a result of these factors each Car Club car takes around 20 private vehicles off the road.

The benefits for the environment and for the finances of Car Club members appear clear then, however one area where Car Clubs are not necessarily offering their members the best deal is when it comes to insurance. When you join a Car Club you should be covered by a comprehensive insurance policy that covers you for 3 rd party liability as well as damage or theft of the car club vehicle. However, these policies usually involve the member paying an excess charge which can be several hundred pounds before the insurance will settle a claim for damage or theft. Many of the car clubs offer the member the chance to buy an excess insurance policy which will protect against this charge, and some will offer to reduce it to a lower amount. Analysis carried out by in December 2010 shows that this excess insurance can cost as much as £179 a year (even more if you are under 25), what’s more in some cases the insurance only reduces the excess liability instead of removing it all together.

Car Club members may have felt previously that there were few alternatives available to them however once we saw at the amounts some customers were having to pay to insure their Car Club excess insurance charges we decided to get involved. As a provider of low cost hire car excess insurance we have a lot of specialism in this end of the market so we’ve managed to create a comprehensive car club excess insurance policy which works with any accredited car club across Europe. What’s more, this policy costs just £39.99 for a whole year and genuinely reduces the car club excess to zero (instead of just reducing it). As we have a philosophy of offering the best products that we can for the lowest possible price we’ve also included protection for damage to areas of the vehicle such as roof, tyres, windscreen and undercarriage; we’ve even included insurance for loss of the vehicle key (or key card) for added peace of mind.

Car Clubs are definitely a growth area and as more people join the wider and more comprehensive the car club networks can become. Now with the availability of competitive car club excess insurance people who have chosen to ditch their car for a low cost motoring alternative now also have the option of ditching their car clubs’ own excess insurance for a low cost alternative!

To find out more about excess insurance from iCarhireinsurance, please visit our Car Club insurance homepage

Click here to download The Car Plus 2010 Annual Survey

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 12:50
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