Note: This is the final installment of a 4 part series regarding the insurance coverage gaps for Uber and Lyft drivers.
The popularity of Uber and Lyft has created a lot of phone calls and emails to our office inquiring about coverage. It’s created a new way for people to make extra money on the side. It has its positives and it also has its negatives. But regardless of how you look at it, these ride sharing services are here to stay.
To consumers, Uber/Lyft is really a taxi service in what’s probably nicer cars than most yellow cabs that you use in New York City. In many cities Uber and Lyft are giving traditional taxi operators competition that they never had before. The positive for consumers is more vehicles available and in some cases, lower prices.
I have met people, usually those who live in a major city, who swear by Uber and Lyft.
Today I’m going to talk about what happens to a passenger whose Uber/Lyft driver is in an accident. It’s a fact of life that accidents happen and there is bound to be a time when an Uber/Lyft driver is in an accident.
There is some confusion about Uber / Lyft vehicles being considered personal autos. In reality, personal auto insurance carriers are looking at Uber/Lyft drivers as operating a business and should be insured under business auto insurance. Therefore if anyone is a passenger in these vehicles, they are considered commercial autos not private autos.
The way I look at an Uber/Lyft ride is the same way I look at one in a taxi. If you are in an accident, there are some resources available to help pay for your medical bills. In the points mentioned below, whenever you see taxi, replace it with Uber/Lyft ride.
- If you had an accident while riding in a taxi for work, your employer’s Workers Compensation policy should be the first place to go to for your medical bills. We had a customer whose employee traveled to a mid-west city to attend a conference. On the way from the airport to the conference the taxi was t-boned by another vehicle and the employee incurred over $200,000 of medical bills. The employer’s Workers Compensation insurance policy paid the bill in full.
- If you are hiring a taxi for private matters such as getting a ride to the airport from your home, you can first look to your personal auto insurance policy. In New Jersey all standard personal auto insurance policies come with $1,000 of medical payment coverage. Most insurance companies allow you to buy another $9,000 of coverage for $1.00. Some companies will go as high as $30,000. But this coverage may not be enough. Personal Injury Protection Coverage does not come into play here because a taxi is considered a commercial vehicle. For further information about Personal Injury Protection, check out my blog post Uber Insurance Problems – Part 2.
- The next level to go to is your private health insurance coverage that you may have purchased for yourself or is provided by your employer. You will have a deductible and a co-payment to make.
- For those who do not have health insurance, the only option you have is to hire a lawyer and sue the driver of the taxi or the other car that hit the taxi you were in. This option may take a long time to come to conclusion.
There’s nothing wrong about taking an Uber or Lyft ride. But know before you go on what options you have in place and decide what is right for you.
Want to learn more about New Jersey’s Ride Sharing Legistation and how that impacts Uber & Lyft Drivers? Check out the post here.