What are Your Rights after an Accident While in Uber?
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
Companies like Uber and Lyft are Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) that participate in the relatively new ride-sharing industry. Unlike taxi companies, TNCs are relatively unregulated – in fact, UberX drivers are not even required to carry commercial driver’s licenses. If you are injured in an Uber accident, however, it is likely that you will be covered by insurance.
As an Uber passenger, your personal auto insurance policy probably will not cover you in an Uber accident, because the accident occurred in a vehicle that was being used for commercial purposes (read your policy carefully to confirm this). As an Uber driver, however, there is a much better chance that your personal auto insurance policy will cover you.
Although state law regarding TNC insurance is currently a patchwork that varies from state to state, many states do require TNC companies to provide insurance coverage. Uber provides insurance that meets or exceeds the requirements of state law in every state where TNCs are regulated. Its benefits include:
- $1 million in primary coverage per accident, excluding accidents that occur during “Period 1” (times between trips when the driver’s Uber app is still turned on). This coverage includes injuries to passengers.
- $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- Collision insurance for damage to the driver’s car (subject to a $1,000 deductible)
- No fault coverage in certain locations
- Limited injury coverage between trips ($50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage). In at least 19 states, the bodily injury portion of this policy is now primary, meaning that it will pay even if the driver’s personal auto insurance company doesn’t.
- UberBLACK, UberSUV, and uberTAXI rides are covered by commercial insurance policies.
Remaining Gaps in Conventional Insurance Coverage
Neither Uber insurance nor most personal auto insurance policies cover the following:
- Damage to an Uber driver’s car in an accident that occurred during Period 1 (if the accident was another driver’s fault, however, the other driver’s insurance might cover the damages)
- Personal injury to a driver in an accident that occurred during Period 1, if the accident was the Uber driver’s fault
- Damages that exceed policy coverage limits
“Period I” Coverage
It is possible for an Uber driver to procure special insurance that will cover accidents that occur during Period 1. At present, however, these options are limited. In many states, only one or two companies offer Period 1 Uber accident coverage, leading to anecdotal reports of expensive quotes.
Since Uber drivers are considered to be independent contractors rather than Uber employees, it is next to impossible for a passenger or a third party to sue Uber itself for an accident caused by one of its drivers. Alleging that Uber negligently retained a driver with a bad driving record is one of the few reasonably promising legal avenues in this regard.
If you have been seriously injured in an Uber accident, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you explore your options.