Are there any liabilities of using Uber and Lyft? You bet there are! I have a good friend who I recently met for a nice dinner and to enjoy a few glasses of wine. While I limit myself to one, my friend had a few. I drove myself to the restaurant and as we were leaving I asked my friend if he needed a ride, he said, “Not to worry, I’m taking Uber home”.
While these smart phone-based ride-sharing apps are logical, quick, affordable, and a safe option for many, the service brings up liability issues.
So what are the liability concerns when you, a passenger, gets into one of these cars?
A great number of criticism has been made from taxi cab associations insisting that these type of ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber don’t provide paying passengers enough proper protection or liability coverage. And what about the drivers – are they, or the company, or both, potentially at fault for the injuries of a passenger? How do we hold anyone accountable?
New requirements to a new law will require that ride-sharing companies provide at least secondary insurance which would supplement the drivers’ primary coverage. Insurance protection essentially starts from the moment the app is opened. This law mandates certain monetary levels of insurance coverage and was signed into law not more than a year ago by California Governor Jerry Brown.
Deputy California Insurance Commissioner Chris Shultz has been quoted on this issue as saying: “In many parts of California you have better coverage available to you as a passenger in one of these services, than you would in a Taxi” – which is great news for us.
Uber and Lyft currently carry $1 million in liability insurance, which is considered “excess coverage” above what the actual driver carries for him or herself – like an umbrella policy. By comparison, a limousine service is required to have only $750,000 in insurance, although many carry more.
Now, what if you as a passenger, got injured and filed a claim against the driver using your own personal insurance?, It seems that insurance companies will typically deny such a claim made against the ride-sharing driver’s policy. The reason for possibly denial is because drivers generally carry a personal insurance policy rather than a commercial insurance policy.
Personal insurance policies almost always exclude coverage if the driver was acting “for profit” when driving, which is something that numerous drivers try to hide from their personal insurers. Bad idea for all involved. Another challenge is that Uber, Lyft, and any other ride-share companies will claim they are a “tech service”, merely giving information to their drivers.
In all of these concerning situations, it is best to talk to a professional who is on your side. Don’t think of dealing with the insurers of opposing parties by yourself. And always take caution before requesting a ride with any type of ride-sharing service app.