Will Uber Play in Peoria?

JR Runkel - Fortner Insurance Agency, Inc.

One thing is for sure: insuring an Uber driver is full of complexities.

Have you used Uber? Do you want to be an Uber driver? I personally have used Uber in my travels around the country, and my experience was outstanding from an efficiency and cost standpoint. However, as an insurance professional who insures livery services, I remember sitting in the back of the Uber car thinking, “How am I covered if something goes wrong on this drive?”

In recent months, the Peoria City Council has been discussing the possibility of allowing Uber in our fine city. The insurance industry is also grappling with this issue, looking at the way the current policy language reads, as well as what changes might be made in the future to “cover” or “exclude” an Uber driver. As an independent insurance agent, we contract with many different auto insurance carriers. I have spent some time researching this issue with my insurance company partners, and here are some of the things I have discovered.

Most auto policies carry similar language that reads: “For that ‘insured’s’ liability arising out of the ownership or operation of a vehicle while it is being used as a public or livery conveyance. This Exclusion does not apply to a share-the-expense car pool.” In plain English, that means if you accept money to drive somebody, there is NO LIABILITY COVERAGE for the owner of the vehicle. That could leave the owner open to a lawsuit if his or her Uber passenger was injured during their ride. A carpool situation would not apply to the livery exclusion. This would be people known by the insured—who they probably work with—and there is typically a rotation of using different people’s cars in the carpool.

There are some companies that are providing endorsements to your personal auto policy. According to my research, Uber does provide coverage for the period of time when drivers have a passenger for fare in their cars. These endorsements provide coverage from the time the insured goes available to transport someone, until they pick up the passenger and the Uber coverage kicks in. Here is one scenario in which someone would not have coverage without an endorsement:

The insured is at home and agrees to be available to provide a ride. They get notification that someone needs a ride a few blocks away. They leave home and drive down the street to pick up the passenger. During this short drive, they run a stop sign and hit another vehicle. This accident would not be covered by the insurance company or Uber without an endorsement.

As we continue to have new technology services offered in our society, we must also remember how our personal assets can be compromised if we don’t analyze how we are protected by our personal insurance. It should be interesting to see if Uber will “play in Peoria.” iBi

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