Whether you are the passenger or the other motor vehicle involved in an accident with ride-sharing companies such as Uber or Lyft, there are certain rights and concerns that are essential to the insurance and claims process. Because the industry is still relatively new, the insurance companies are playing catch up to make sure that their policies involve some kind of ride-sharing agreement for coverage and options.
Rideshare companies, also known as Transportation Network Companies, provide driver-for-hire ride sharing services to consumers by contracting with freelance drivers who use their personal vehicles to transport passengers. These drivers do not generally go through the same scrutiny that other for-hire drivers go through and their cars are not registered or insured as commercial vehicles. These services provide commercial and taxi-like services that enable passengers to arrange rides on short notice using a smart phone app.
The emerging norm for these ridershare companies involves three elements:
In most cases, rideshare vehicles do not operate like traditional taxis. A single taxi is often almost always on the road and can travel upwards of 70,000 miles annually, whereas ride-share cars are used considerably less. However, some rideshare drivers drive part-time, and some drive full-time. Continually, these “apps” claim that their businesses are exactly what an app entails, just a technological start up that is the middle man between a driver and a passenger. They do not operate as a commercialized vehicle for-hire entity .
In the recent past, a few bills have been signed into law a bill that have regulated the way app-based companies like Uber and Lyft operate and are insured. While commercial vehicles must be covered through strict policies governed by the state in which they are driven, until recently, Uber and Lyft were not subjected to the same kind of requirement due to their modern business venture (basically the businesses claimed they were just an app the helped people find other people willing to give them a ride). With pressure mounting due to numerous accidents across the US, Uber and Lyft adopted insurance coverage for drivers that kicks-in once they have accepted and picked up a passenger.
Problem solved? Not even close.
Signed into law in Colorado’s Senate Bill 125, the Transportation Network Company Act affirms that these companies must provide primary insurance coverage for the entire time a driver’s app is on. Therefore, auto insurers may rightfully deny personal-line policyholder claims arising out of incidents involving TNC-affiliated private-passenger vehicles. In effect, TNC’s must provide primary liability coverage of at least $50,000 per injured person, $100,000 for all injuries in an accident and $30,000 for property damage. With the success of this bill, California followed soon after.
The Florida’s House Highway and Waterway Safety Subcommittee passed House Bill 509 on Wednesday Dec 2, 2015, 10 to 1 which requires TNCs to meet minimum insurance standards. Uber and Lyft already operate on these requirements in which necessitate coverage amounts from when the driver is logged on up until the driver has dropped off their passengers. The required coverage is at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 per death and bodily injury per incident, and $25,000 for property damage. Other requirements include (beginning on March 1, 2017):
These minimum requirements are up to date with the coverage TNCs already provides their drivers. The one difference between Uber’s current policy and the requirements outline in the bill is the contingency of coverage when a driver is logged onto Uber’s platform but is not driving a passenger. This bill makes Uber’s policy the primary one if the driver is logged into the app. Without this piece of legislation, the driver’s personal policy may take effect if the driver says he was logged onto the app but not using it and Uber’s policy would cover losses for what the driver’s personal policy did not .
In 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 221, which overrides the patchwork of other state and local laws governing rideshare companies, and instead consolidates everything this new bill maintains the same insurance coverage, but offers some solid takes on formerly questioned topics like: are rideshare drivers still freelancing (yes), do drivers need to register as commercial vehicles (no), and so on. You can read all of House Bil 221 here.
Additionally it is important to note that if you’re an injured person in the car with the driver, you’re personal auto policy probably would not provide coverage for an injury in a TNC because private-passenger auto insurance policies were never intended to provide coverage for injuries incurred while the vehicle was engaged in a commercial enterprise . However, the ridershare insurance will, more than likely, cover your injuries.
Dolman Law Group
Auto accidents involving ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft can be confusing and unique because of the changing landscape of the laws that regulate such businesses. Under current company policies, drivers should be covered as long as he or she is logged into the app. The legal grey area, however, is when someone is on their way to pick up a client. In these cases, the victim of a crash will have to go through the driver’s personal insurance before reaching the company. In some other cases, injured passengers have to fight against the driver, the driver’s insurance, or even the driver’s contractor to receive fair compensation. Because Uber and Lyft are considered independent contractors, the question of liability is difficult to understand.
Let the experienced accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group help clear the air. Support should be available for all of your current and future medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other related damages. The recent bill can help recover those costs but in able to do so, you need to evaluate all of your options. Contact Dolman Law Group to figure it all out today at (727) 451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
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Clearwater, FL 33765