Ridesharing is on the rise. Uber estimates that nearly 80 million customers use their service, every month! This number is astronomical on its own. And when you factor in that other titans of the industry like Lyft and Sidecar are moving millions more around each day, it is obvious ridesharing is here to stay. As is this case with most new technology or service, many people have questions about how they will be affected by the change. Ridesharing has not been an exception. Perhaps the most hotly debated issue arising from the new service is how it will affect the insurance industry. In fact, the debate grew to such a proportion that the Florida Legislature decided to intervene. In May of 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 221, known as the “Uber/Lyft Bill”, which established consistent operating standards in the insurance industry throughout Florida for ridesharing companies. While those who abstain from the apps may brush this Bill off after a glance at its name, the fact is this Bill affects almost every person in Florida, and even those who visit Florida. The Bill affects not only Uber drivers, but passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers on the road. Because of its far-reaching implications, it is important you understand how the insurance coverage offered by Uber can affect you.
Under Uber’s insurance scheme, the first and most important distinction that must be made is whether the driver was online when accident occurred; i.e. was the driver logged into the app and available to customers. If the driver was not online at the time of an accident, Uber’s insurance will not be implicated. This scenario would be like any other accident where the insurance of the drivers involved in the accident should supply either Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP), Bodily Injury coverage, Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM / UIM), or some combination of each.
If the driver is online, Uber’s insurance applies but the coverage will vary based on certain scenarios. The first scenario arises when the driver is online with Uber but has yet to accept a customer’s request for pick up. In this instance, the driver is covered under Uber’s policy for injury or damage they cause to someone or something other than themselves or their vehicle. In this scenario, Uber’s insurance will cover at least $50,000 in injury liability per person with $100,000 in total liability per accident and $25,000 in property damage per accident. This coverage can be used to pay for another driver’s or another person’s medical bills, or property damage. While these numbers are alluring, it is important to note that there are a couple catches to this coverage. The first catch occurs if another driver is at fault for the accident. If this occurs, a claim will likely have to be made against the at-fault party’s insurance. It is important to note that in this instance, it is crucial that the driver have UM / UIM coverage as Uber’s insurance will not apply. See our blog on why you should have UM / UIM coverage for more information.
The next scenario occurs when an Uber driver is en route to pick up a rider but before they get into the car. In this scenario, the driver is covered by Uber’s insurance policy for three things: (1) liability to someone or something other than themselves or vehicle, (2) any injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured motorist, and (3) collision and comprehensive but only if the driver has such coverage on their personal coverage. If these conditions are satisfied, Uber’s insurance will cover up to $1 million for injuries to third parties such as pedestrians, property, or another driver. The policy also includes $1 million in UM / UIM coverage, and a contingent collision comprehensive coverage which is a no-fault coverage amount up to the actual cash value of the vehicle. This collision coverage can be used regardless of the driver’s online status at the time of the accident.
The third scenario is when the Uber driver finally picks up their passenger. The coverage limits of $1 million remain the same as the previous scenario, except this coverage is now extended to the passenger. The UM / UIM coverage will also include the passenger, and this includes a hit-and-run accident where the at-fault party cannot be identified.
Ridesharing is here to stay. If you’re not one of the 80-million monthly users, odds are you could be affected by one of them. Simply knowing the insurance coverage offered by ridesharing companies may not be enough. Insurance companies tend to over promise and underpay when it comes to compensating victims. If you find yourself involved in an accident with a ridesharing company like Uber, it may be best to contact an attorney who is experienced with insurance companies.
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