Is Uber Worth The Risk

Posted by: Donnell Insurance | Posted on: July 24th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Is Uber Worth The Risk?

With a significant increase in popularity amongst my peers I’ve noticed Uber far surpass the typical usage of the traditional taxi cab. Most people have either heard conspicuous rumors or dug into the issue themselves about the legitimacy and safety protocols of how Uber places riders at extreme risk. The bottom line is that using the family car to drive for Uber carries the potential for serious consequences in terms of inadequate insurance protection. Until the legal issues surrounding Uber’s business model are resolved, it’s unlikely the insurance industry will come up with a viable solution.

Uber is a large multinational firm that offers consumers an alternative to licensed taxis by arranging a ride using a mobile application. Under the terms of service, the consumer is picked up and brought to their destination by the driver who is using his or her own car. As Uber operates outside the taxi licensing framework and because it does not operate its own fleet of vehicles, Uber “firmly insisted that it is not a taxi company, but rather a technology company, therefore not subject to licensing rules”.

As Uber manipulates its legitimacy through the courts and while politicians speculate whether taxi regulations need to be modified, the drivers who are using their own private passenger car to pick up and drive Uber’s consumers to their destinations may find they are doing so without the benefit of their own insurance.

Simply put, Uber driver’s negligence to understand their own insurance policy places riders at risk. The Ontario Automobile Insurance Application asks if the described automobile will be used to carry passengers for compensation or hire. Even if the insured can say “no” at the time of application, if he or she starts driving for Uber, the automobile insurance policy requires the insured to notify the insurer of any material change in risk. Not doing so is grounds for an insurance company to cancel a policy or deny a claim.

The problem is that Uber drivers’ personal auto insurance policies are likely invalid to carry a paying passenger. However, Uber suggests every ride on the Uber platform in Canada is backed by US$5,000,000 of contingent auto liability insurance. In the event of an accident this coverage would assist the other driver, pedestrians, and passengers, only in addition to any insurance maintained by the driver, which may not even be valid. Conspicuous by its absence, is any mention of bodily injury damages, which usually are the most sever, expensive and most important.

These are significant coverage issues faced by policyholders who allow their personal insurance vehicle to ferry around Uber passengers. Until the legal/regulatory issues surrounding Ubers business model are sorted out, it remains problematic for the insurance industry to offer the correct type of coverage. Until these issues are addressed, why put yourself at risk with an Uber driver who may be in coverage limbo?




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