carsharing flickr Revolve Eco-RallyCalifornia has passed the nation’s first law aimed at removing barriers to personal car sharing – which will let enterprising car owners rent their idle vehicles out Zipcar-style to other drivers. It’s an idea that makes a lot of sense (and which Sightline first highlighted three years ago). But without more protections, it made insurance companies nervous.

AB 1871 cracked that nut in a pretty simple way. It guarantees that insurance companies won’t be liable in the event of an accident while another driver is using a car. And it assures car owners that their insurer can’t drop them or hike their rates up simply because they participate in a personal car-sharing program. And that was enough to win unanimous support in the California Legislature.

Good write-ups appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Fast Company after the bill was signed last week. This press release from bill sponsor Assemblyman Dave Jones outlines some particulars of the legislation.

As we discovered, similar roadblocks exist in other states, like Oregon and Washington. Let’s hope enterprising Northwest policymakers follow California’s lead. Given the widespread support there, it seems like an easy problem to fix.

Carsharing photo courtesy of flickr user Revolve Eco-Rally via a Creative Commons license.