Commissioners will begin debate on an ordinance that allows ride-sharing service Uber to largely regulate itself. This ordinance if passed would allow the company to operate using a six month temporary permit, even though the county believes that Uber lacks the required insurance for its drivers.
The Commissioners Get an Ubering
The law under consideration also removes the county from the responsibility of checking Uber’s drivers and vehicles. This will allow ridesharing service to essentially self-regulate. Taxi companies are protesting Uber’s operating under a temporary permit, while at the same time seeking determination from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that it holds sufficient insurance. The commissioners essentially gave Uber its Christmas list, but has left riders and drivers hanging with regard to what insurance Uber drivers need and how Uber riders are covered. Another caveat, however: under this plan, riders can’t complain to the taxi commission, but will have to take problems to Uber.
Drivers will also need to have a long talk with their insurance agent in order to make sure that in the event of an accident that they have liability coverage if Uber is not found to be at fault. There is also the “coverage gap” that occurs when a driver is logged into the app, but does not have a passenger to pick up. Theoretically at that time the driver is not on Uber’s clock, but is instead on his own time. Any accidents occurring in this period could result in claims being denied by the company. Likewise, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy could deny the claim if the driver was logged into the application, which is considered a commercial activity.
There are currently two proposals presented by Enova Network and Tappxi Florida, companies with Broward County TNC licenses, which would allow the service to resume operating immediately. However, among the demands in the proposal are that vehicles must carry commercial insurance, all drivers must be fingerprinted and background checked, and airport trips will result in a pass-through fee. It is alleged that Uber owes in excess of $400,000 in unpaid airport fees. It remains open to question how different adjacent counties will decide to regulate the ridesharing companies. Taxis, limousines, and airport shuttles pay fees to these counties, and are regulated with respect to the backgrounds of their drivers, as well as the condition and road-worthiness of their vehicles.
Insurance Companies Roll with the Changes
The picture is not all that bleak for Uber drivers, and talking to your insurance agent could reveal that you have options for insurance coverage. Companies are beginning to move with the times and present policies that are specifically tailored to drivers of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Instead of going along on your personal policy and hoping that in the event of an accident that you are covered by Uber’s blanket policy, it would be a better idea to get assured coverage through an experienced insurance agent, and keep your liability within reason.