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California lawmakers pass law affecting Uber insurance (1 of 2)

Technology has changed the way we go about life in many ways, including the way we find a ride. Uber is a California-based ridesharing company that allows people to use a smartphone app to connect with drivers in their area who are willing to give them a lift using their private vehicles. The smartphone app developed into a modern-day taxi cab service that is now available in most areas of the country.

But as we all know, anytime you get into a vehicle there is a chance of an accident occurring, which is why expansive insurance coverage is a must for taxi cab companies. But should companies like Uber also have to require their drivers to carry expansive insurance coverage? And who should be responsible if an accident occurs and an Uber driver is un- or under-insured?

These questions were thrust into the spotlight at the beginning of the year after a 6-year-old girl was hit and killed by an Uber driver while in a crosswalk with her family in San Francisco. The child’s family, who has filed a wrongful death claim against Uber, has said that they saw the Uber driver looking at his glowing smartphone screen that night moments before the accident.

Uber responded by saying that the driver was not providing Uber driving services at the time of the accident because he wasn’t carrying Uber passengers or on his way to pick any up. Instead, he was driving around looking for people to pick up with his Uber app on.

The tragedy demonstrated an obvious lapse in coverage for Uber drivers, and a California lawmaker instantly took the opportunity to draft a bill on the matter. The bill required that Uber, and companies like it, must make sure that Uber drivers have proper commercial insurance coverage in place from the second they turn on their apps and begin looking for customers.

Check back later this week for part 2.

Source: New York Times, “The Question of Coverage for Ride Service Drivers,” Ron Lieber, Sept. 5, 2014

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