Jun 06 2014

Do You Uber?



Before you join up with any ride-sharing business in Utah, you should check your car insurance policy. State agencies say ride-sharing companies are dangerous because their insurance policies aren’t regulated and can financially ruin a person in an accident.

Ride-sharing companies like Uber work through apps and you can sign up to be a driver or a fee-paying passenger. However, Utah’s Insurance Department says there’s a gap in private insurance coverage, and you may not be covered when you are riding in one of the Uber cars.  So in the case of a collision or crash, you may be left with a large bill.

Before you get in the car, check to see if they have coverage, and talk to your agent to find out if YOU are covered.  You can count on ANY insurance company to try and get out of a claim. Taxi drivers and bus drivers pay for full coverage, and this issue with the newer ride-sharing may end up being argued in the courtroom.  Drivers of ride-sharing cars are considered private taxis by law. Most ride-sharing companies have insurance policies for their drivers, but new lawsuits are testing the limits of these policies.

A recent California case is reviewing this same issue.  A woman injured in a crash in San Francisco last summer sued Uber and the driver of the ride-sharing car. Uber has a policy to insure its drivers.  “From the time a driver accepts a trip request through our app until the completion of the ride, our partners have $1 million of coverage for driver liability,” a statement on Uber’s website reads. “We were also the first ridesharing request service to include $1 million of coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists, meaning that passengers and drivers are also covered for injuries when another party is at fault and lacks sufficient insurance.”

However, Uber is disputing the California claim made by the woman who was injured when the car driven by an Uber driver crashed. The car collided with another car and a fire hydrant went flying through the air and struck the woman.   It’s unclear if Uber will step up and just pay for her medical bills or if the driver will have to pay for it all. Uber says it is not liable because it defines its relationships with the drivers as “partners,” not employees.

Critics are calling out Uber for what they call shady insurance practices and say Uber should take responsibility for its drivers.   It looks like Uber is trying to distance itself from any liability, instead calling itself a ‘modern day phone book’ of drivers that simply connect people but has no responsibility when accidents occur.  Your private insurance may not cover you being in the car while it’s considered a private taxi, either.   Bottom line:  If you still want to participate in ride-sharing, verify that the driver has coverage, and when the coverage kicks in for its passengers.

Utah joins 12 other states that are warning consumers against ride-sharing companies.