By Logan Quirk
Working as an Uber driver is a convenient way for some people to earn extra money during their spare time. But failing to invest in an Uber insurance policy could end up costing them a lot more than they earn. Just as the concept of ridesharing is growing, so are the number of Uber personal injury lawsuits. Drivers might not realize how little protection they have in case an accident happens while on the Uber app.
How Uber Works
People in large cities where the rideshare platform is popular know a lot about how it works from the rider’s perspective. Those interested in becoming an Uber driver might not know as much about the system. Uber imposes restrictions on the drivers and the vehicles alike.
Drivers must be at least 21 years of age and have a minimum of one year of experience driving. They must have a current driver’s license in the state where they want to drive. After signing up, drivers must apply for a background check. After several incidences, the company has gotten stricter about screening their drivers. They check each applicant’s driving record and criminal history to ensure their passengers’ safety. Depending on the applicant’s driving and criminal history, they may never make it past the initial application process.
There are also differences between UberX, UberXL, UberBlack, UberPool, and UberSelect. Each level of service is different and has different requirements, including their insurance needs.
UberX – This is the basic Uber service and it seats up to four passengers. Drivers providing Uber X services must have a four-door mid-size to large-size vehicle that is 10 years old or newer (in most cities) that will pass a safety inspection. Proof of vehicle registration and a basic auto insurance policy are also required.
UberPool – This service has the same vehicle requirements as UberX, but it also picks up other passengers going in the same direction as you. It’s usually more affordable than UberX for those who don’t mind sharing the ride with other people they don’t know.
Express Pool – This option works like UberPool except the driver doesn’t pick the passenger up at their location. Instead, they have to walk to a pickup point nearby. Once the ride ends, passengers are dropped off at the location closest to their final destination. This option is even cheaper than UberPool.
UberXL – Drivers providing UberXL services must have access to an SUV or minivan. It will seat up to six passengers, making it a convenient transportation option for groups. When they split the cost, it’s also an affordable riding option.
UberSelect– The “select” in UberSelect refers to the high-end cars needed to provide this service. Drivers must have newer luxury cars like Mercedes Benz, Audi, or BMW. The service is for up to four passengers who want a luxury ride.
Uber Black – This is the top-end choice for rideshare passengers. UberBlack is limited to the use of late-model luxury SUVs. Drivers providing these services are required to have commercial registration and commercial insurance. If you and your vehicle qualify, make sure you get an Uber insurance policy that covers your specific needs.
In some states, drivers need commercial driver’s licenses for services other than Uber Black. They might also need it if they drive full-time rather than for supplemental income.
When riders request an Uber ride, they see the cost before they request it. Riders don’t pay individual fares. Instead, they pay for the vehicle. If they travel in groups, it’s up to the individuals to share in the cost of the ride. UberPool and ExpressPool cost the least, while Uber Black is the most expensive service the company offers.
Most drivers receive acceptance from Uber within 5 to 7 days after submitting all the required documents. After that, Uber will send the applicant an email stating that they are activated. Before they ever pick up their first ride, drivers need to have an Uber insurance policy in place.
The Uber App
Smartphone apps help people do almost anything these days. The same is true for getting and giving Uber Rides. People who want to get Uber rides use their smartphone app to make a request. A driver who is close to their location receives the request and provides an estimated time of arrival to the passenger. It signals them again when the ride is almost there.
The app provides the person making the request with the driver’s name, the type of vehicle they are driving, and the license plate number. This ensures the passenger and driver connect at the pickup location. The passenger can use the app to enter their destination before or during the ride. Once the passenger reaches their destination, the app automatically calculates the fare. It charges the fare to their saved payment that is linked to the account. The driver receives their payment from Uber for their total fares.
Passengers have the option to rate their driver on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Drivers can also rate their riders.
How Uber Car Insurance Works
Car accidents happen every day, ranging from minor fender benders to those that cause long-term injuries and fatalities. Most of us don’t think about being in an accident every time we get into a vehicle. But Uber drivers spend more hours on the roads than the average driver. That puts them at a higher risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. The same is true for the riders who use their services. No matter what lengths the company goes to in order to get safe drivers, there’s no way to eliminate the risk entirely. Drivers often think their regular auto insurance is enough. Once an accident happens, it’s too late to understand what that and Uber’s coverage really do.
Uber offers supplemental insurance that applies in three different ways. While the driver has the app on and is waiting for a ride request, the insurance covers them for liability to a third party. That means if the driver is at-fault, the coverage pays the injured party’s medical bills and/or property damage. This coverage varies from state to state but is at least $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury and $25,000 per accident for property damage.
Once the driver receives a ride request and is on their way to pick the rider up, the insurance covers third-party liability of at least $1,000,000 per accident. It also covers uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury to the driver and any passengers when the other driver is at-fault. This coverage is also a minimum of $1,000,000 per accident. Finally, the coverage includes contingent collision and comprehensive coverage. This coverage is for any accident that is the driver’s fault or another driver’s fault. As long as the driver maintains a personal auto insurance policy that includes collision coverage for the vehicle while not on an Uber call, the coverage pays up to the cash value of the driver’s vehicle. However, there is a $1,000 deductible that the driver must pay out-of-pocket before the additional coverage kicks in.
Although the amount of coverage is increased, drivers are often left to cover their own damages when an accident happens, and the app is off. Uber only covers them while the app is on. Drivers also face high deductibles that they must pay out-of-pocket. Most drivers trying to make extra money by driving for Uber don’t have the money needed to cover their deductibles.
Why Uber Insurance Coverage Isn’t Enough
The first thing new drivers need to consider is whether driving for Uber will invalidate their personal auto insurance policy. Some policies specifically state that working for a ride for hire company invalidates the policy’s coverage. After all, personal car insurance is for personal use, not a business like driving for Uber. The very fact that they are at an increased risk of being involved in a crash is a reason insurance companies won’t cover them.
Uber upped the amount of insurance coverage they provide their drivers after a string of personal injury lawsuits followed some Uber accidents. Personal injury lawsuits are another reason that Uber insurance still isn’t enough. Early on, rideshare drivers didn’t have a lot of choices. Regular insurance companies often didn’t offer coverage for drivers at all. In addition, they canceled their personal insurance when they learned about the driver’s use of their vehicle to work.
The gap in coverage is one reason drivers need a separate policy for their rideshare activities. The insurance covers the gap in insurance that occurs when the app is off.
Another reason is the limits the Uber coverage offers. Sometimes serious injuries require extensive, long-term medical treatment. Sometimes the injuries are so severe, they result in death. Sometimes settlements for these personal injury or wrongful death claims run into the millions. If the Uber driver is at fault, they are liable for any compensation not covered by the Uber insurance.
Today, drivers have multiple options to get an Uber insurance policy to protect them. They can compare quotes from different top insurance companies to get the coverage and price that is right for them. They can choose coverage that fills the insurance gap, extends the coverage on various phases of the Uber process, or both. Drivers hoping to “just get by” without adding additional coverage are gambling with their health, reputation, and financial well-being. The investment into an Uber insurance policy is well worth the added expense.
Who Is Liable in an Uber Accident?
The rideshare concept is still relatively new. A lot of issues have come into play as the legal system tries to adapt. One area of controversy is the company’s classification of uber drivers as independent contractors. The reason behind the classification is that it takes the liability away from the company and puts it on the driver.
Court rulings vary in their view of whether the classification is legal. Many people compare the rideshare services to those of a taxi, but there are many differences. For one, taxi drivers often lease their vehicles instead of owning them. They lease them from the taxi company in return for a portion of the fares they receive. Depending on the way a taxi company does business, the driver and/or the company owner might be liable for damages in an accident. In an Uber accident, either the Uber driver or the other driver is at-fault. In spite of these differences, the same argument has held true for taxi drivers for a number of years.
What to Do After an Uber Accident
If you are in an Uber accident, make sure everyone involved is okay. Now isn’t the time to start questioning who caused the accident. But it is the best time to start collecting evidence.
Call 911 to have the law dispatched to the scene. Ask for medical help for anyone who is seriously injured. Once the necessary help is on the way, start collecting evidence. Use your cell phone to take photos of the scene, all the victims involved, license plate numbers, and any other details that might be important. That includes getting information about the Uber driver. Just having a name isn’t enough once an accident happens.
Look around for witnesses who saw the accident happen. Get their names, phone numbers, and how much they saw. Collect information from the other driver.
Although the Uber driver or the other driver might be liable for your injuries and damages, contact your insurance company right away. Right down any details of the accident that might be important.
Get medical treatment, even if you don’t think you are seriously injured. Some injuries don’t show up until later. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your injuries, medical treatment, and the accident. He will help you make sense of your rights and guide you on the next steps to take. He can also help you get compensation from the rideshare company or the driver’s Uber insurance policy.
If you’ve been in an Uber accident, Contact Quirk Law Group to learn more about your rights to compensation.