Did you know that you can rent far more than just vacation properties these days? In fact, there are numerous “peer-to-peer” rental sites that apply a formula similar to Airbnb.com and Vrbo.com to rent out other types of property. Turo.com and GetAround.com let people rent cars from car owners…Outdoorsy.com and RVShare.com do the same for RVs and travel trailers…Boatsetter.com and
GetMyBoat.com offer boats…Hipcamp.com and Campspace.com offer private camping spots…Spinlister.com is for bicycles…and Swimply.com is for swimming pools.

Prices at these peer-to-peer rental websites often are lower than conventional corporate rentals…and they can offer the opportunity to rent these items closer to your preferred location. Overall, the ­evidence doesn’t suggest that peer-to-peer rentals are more likely to have customer complaints or overcharges.

But: These rentals do have some potential drawbacks…

Quality and honesty can vary dramatically. These websites do little or no vetting. So while most listings on peer-to-peer rental sites are posted by responsible property owners, there inevitably are some less appealing rentals and renters. To reduce the odds of problems: Rent only from property owners who have received lots of positive feedback from previous renters, even if that means missing out on the lowest available prices. Contact the renter, and ask questions before committing to get a better sense of the item being rented and the person renting it.

Insurance can be an issue, especially with motor vehicle rentals. Your own insurance or the insurance of the person renting out the item may not cover you if something happens. What to do: Contact your insurer for details, or ask to see the property owner’s proof of coverage. Peer-to-peer rental websites often offer insurance to renters and/or property owners for an additional fee. Travel insurance policies and/or credit cards that provide rental-car insurance might cover peer-to-peer rentals. Confirm this rather than assume yours does.

If something does go wrong, there may be no simple solution. If the vehicle you rent from a major rental agency breaks down, that agency likely can provide a replacement. But if you rent from an individual through a peer-to-peer website, that person might not have a replacement to offer.

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