As companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are growing more popular and beginning to replace taxi companies, it is important to understand how insurance coverage works when a ride-sharing company is involved so that you can protect yourself in the event of an accident. Although similar in many ways, each company has a different insurance policy, and it is important to know which rideshare company is involved if you are in an accident. Depending on the circumstances, you may come to find that you have little to no insurance coverage.
Whereas a taxi service uses a fleet of cars that belong to one company, ride share services allow drivers to use their own vehicles to pick up fares. By using an app, a passenger can contact any driver in the surrounding area. The driver is notified of the passenger’s location so that he or she can pick up the fare. Drivers then use the app to keep track of the trip, and pay a percentage of the fare to the ride sharing company. Services like Uber and Lyft also allow the driver to use their own personal auto insurance for liability coverage instead of having each driver covered by a company policy. This is a money saving tactic for the ridesharing company, but can leave accident victims in the unfortunate position where they may not be completely insured.
What if you are in an accident with the driver of a rideshare vehicle?
- As stated before, ride-sharing companies allow drivers to use their own auto insurance rather than insure every driver under a company policy. This can be a problem when an Uber driver is involved in an accident because many insurers will deny coverage for an accident if the policyholder was driving for profit. Due to this stipulation in the policy, your claim with the driver’s personal insurance company may be denied.
- If the ride-share driver involved in your accident does not have the necessary coverage to pay the costs of your accident, the next most viable option would be to file a claim with your own insurance company. However, if you only have minimum coverage or do not have auto insurance at all, you still will not be covered if you are in an accident.
- Although ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft do offer additional coverage, this coverage only comes into effect under specific circumstances. Depending on whether or not the driver is carrying a passenger, using the company app, or on their way to pick up a prearranged fare, you may not be covered by the additional policies that ridesharing companies advertise. Even if your accident happens under circumstances that would provide you additional coverage, it may only be liability coverage and will not necessarily cover your medical expenses or lost wages.
- An insurance company can become insolvent, meaning they are unable to pay the settlement amount. If the insurer is not authorized by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act (FIGA) and runs out of money, there will be no settlement whatsoever because FIGA is not required to pay the difference. James River, the insurance company used by Uber, is an insurer that is not authorized by FIGA.
What if you are a passenger with Uber or Lyft and another driver causes your accident?
If you are injured due to the negligence of another driver while you are using Uber or Lyft services, your first concern will likely be who will pay your medical bills. If you are covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) it should pay your medical bills and any lost wages up to $10,000 dollars. However, if you are not injured severely enough for it to be classified an emergency medical condition PIP benefits will be limited to $2,500.
- Uber does not provide PIP coverage on its vehicles, as it is not required by the state of Florida. If you do not qualify for PIP benefits on your own, either by owning a vehicle in Florida or living with someone who does, you will most likely be denied PIP coverage. Even if you file a claim under the driver’s personal auto policy, most personal insurance policies in Florida can deny coverage when the policyholder is driving for a fee. Some insurance companies offer a policy specifically for rideshare drivers, but it is not common.
- Lyft, however, does provide PIP benefits. These benefits only come into effect if you do not qualify for your own PIP benefits by owning a car in the state of Florida or living with someone who does.
- In the event that the accident is caused by an uninsured driver, both Uber and Lyft have $1 Million dollar uninsured motorist insurance policies. This also protects passengers from a hit and run situation.
What if you are a driver for Uber or Lyft and you’re in an accident with another driver?
- If you drive for Uber and you are in a wreck, Uber will only pay for the damage to your car if you already carried collision coverage. You will be required to pay a $1,000 deductible before Uber will pay for any damage your vehicle received.
- Uber drivers do not get any PIP insurance or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage in Florida. Although it is required in some states, it is not required in Florida. This does not vary, whether a driver has accepted a fare, is in between fares, or currently has a passenger in the vehicle. Unless the driver has a special insurance policy specifically for a ride share driver who is driving for a fee, they will most likely be denied PIP and MedPay coverage by their personal auto insurance policy as well.
- If the other driver is found to be at fault for the accident, you may be able to file a claim against the other driver. In this scenario the at fault drivers bodily injury liability insurance may pay for many of your expenses, including lost wages, medical expenses, and replacement value of lost personal property.
- If the other driver involved is uninsured, you may or may not be covered by Uber’s policy, depending on whether or not you were en route to a fare or had a passenger already in your vehicle. If you had not yet accepted a fare when your accident occurred or your passenger just exited your vehicle, you will not be covered by rideshare company insurance. You will only be covered by an additional policy if you have accepted a fare through the app or if you have a passenger in your vehicle.
While some aspects of rideshare company insurance may leave you feeling unprotected, there is a benefit to the coverage. Both Uber and Lyft offer uninsured motorist coverage that completely surpasses the nearly nonexistent UM insurance of a Florida taxi. With Uber your passenger may get as much as $1.5 million of UM coverage. Most personal vehicles in Florida do not have any uninsured motorist coverage because it is required by law, and even fewer offer over $1 million dollars of coverage.
If you were injured in an accident involving Uber, Lyft, or another ride-sharing company, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Mr. Ortiz is an experienced personal injury attorney in Florida. Call 850-898-9904 for a free case evaluation.