Uber Legal Headaches for Drivers?
Baltimore Maryland Uber and now Uber X drivers who are injured in an auto accident or who have sustained significant property damages losses may be in for a surprise. As many uber drivers are starting to realize, the regular auto insurance policies held by typical drivers won’t cover their own losses when they are providing rides for pay.
Most household automobile insurance policies for example, contain exclusions which specifically indicate that property damage losses to the insured’s vehicle will not be covered if the driver of the vehicle is accepting a fee in exchange for transportation in the vehicle.
The upshot of this gap in the coverage is that many Uber X drivers may find themselves without coverage after an accident, and in cases where they are at fault or have no one to sue for damages, they could be left holding a very expensive bag.
In a recent blog post – Uber indicated as of February 2013, it would provide coverage for drivers property damage claims in the event all other sources of coverage were excluded. While this seems like a step in the right direction for Uber, the company is voluntarily providing this coverage at its discretion. Unlike most transportations companies which are regulated state by state under transportation laws, Uber is currently lurking in a gray area. On the one hand, it claims it is not a transportation company, merely a technology company that connects drivers and passengers. On the other hand, it has decided to provide liability coverage, as discussed above, to protect its drivers in the event they suffer losses and their own personal policies are found to be inapplicable.
So which is it?
Moreover, Uber has not made it very easy to find information related to how an Uber driver would go about asserting a claim against Uber. I myself, spent two hours yesterday trying to find this information on their site and it was not accessible by any means that I could discern. A client we represent recently provided to us all of the documentation he received after signing up with Uber. In the documents he presented me with, I could find no mention of any claims process for Drivers.
To complicate matters further, as each state and municipality has its own rules and regulations governing taxis and other commercial vehicles, there is not likely to be a simple solution.
It will be interesting to see how Uber plays out. Will it end up being regulated as a transportation company and be required to provide minimum insurance limits for its commercial drivers. Alternatively, if that burden is shifted solely to the Uber driver, will auto insurance companies begin to offer this type of coverage without electing a commercial policy?
In the interim, my firm is starting to accepting cases involving accidents relating Uber Drivers. Whether you are a passenger injured in an Uber vehicle or an Uber driver yourself, if you’ve been hurt through no fault of your own, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer.