Ride-sharing services have exploded over the last decade, resulting in new transportation options for passengers and professional and financial opportunities for drivers. The advent of services like Uber also means an introduction of novel issues that were not previously imagined. In the past, people who needed rides hailed taxis or called family members or friends to drive them. With Uber, people now have more options.
However, riding in an Uber as a passenger carries the same degree of risk for an accident as riding in any other vehicle. If you are injured in an accident while riding as a passenger in an Uber car, you might wonder how you can be compensated for your losses. In general, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should be responsible for paying your damages, whether the driver who caused the accident is your Uber driver or a third party. However, Uber also has an umbrella policy that might provide coverage for your losses when you are injured while riding in an Uber vehicle.
- 1 How Uber’s insurance coverage works
- 2 How the Uber app works
- 3 The safe ride fee
- 4 Independent contractor status
- 5 Phases of driving for Uber insurance purposes
- 6 Consider retaining an attorney
How Uber’s insurance coverage works
Uber has insurance that is meant to protect drivers, passengers, and third parties who are struck by Uber drivers while they are working because of the Uber driver’s negligence. Uber’s insurance coverage pays up to $1 million for injuries resulting in Uber accidents. However, the amount of liability coverage from Uber that might be available will depend on the phase the Uber driver is in with the Uber app. The insurance should cover your losses if you are injured as a passenger or as a third party in an accident caused by an Uber driver. Different rules apply, depending on whether you are a passenger, a third-party, or a driver as well as on the particular phase of the app. It is important for you to understand the insurance rules and how they work before you accept a ride from Uber.
How the Uber app works
Uber is a technology company that has created an app that allows people to call for rides from their smartphones. When you install the app on your smartphone, you can use it to easily request a ride. You will see nearby Uber drivers on your screen and will be told when one of the drivers has accepted your request. Uber drivers are people who have passed the company’s basic screening requirements and work as independent contractors in the gig economy.
When a driver accepts your ride request, you will receive the driver’s name, picture, and a photo of the vehicle and its license plate. Once your ride arrives, you should check to make sure it is the right driver and vehicle before you get into the car. You will then be taken to your destination. The payment will be made electronically through the app, so you will not have to give the driver any cash. Once you have reached your destination, you can then enter a tip for the driver and rate him or her.
Using the Uber app is often less expensive than calling a taxi. Because of the large number of people driving for Uber as a side gig, calling an Uber is often faster than calling for a cab. This makes Uber a very convenient and affordable option to get to where you need to go. While most Uber rides are uneventful and safe, accidents can sometimes happen just like they can with any other form of transportation.
The safe ride fee
When you purchase a ride on the Uber app, you might notice that a portion of the purchase price is for a safe ride fee. This fee is used to pay for the background checks the company is required to perform on Uber drivers as well as driver safety classes and motor vehicle screens. The safe ride fee is not a guarantee that you will not be injured in a car accident, however. Whenever you are riding in a vehicle, there is always a risk that an accident will occur.
Independent contractor status
People who drive for Uber are deemed to be independent contractors instead of employees. This is because they set their own hours and choose whether or not to turn the app on to work. Since the drivers are considered to be independent contractors and not employees, their statuses can pose a problem for people who are injured in accidents with Uber drivers. This is because employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees but not of people who independently contract to perform work for them. By contrast, a taxi company will be vicariously liable for the negligence of one of its employees if an accident occurs, which means the company would be liable for the taxi driver’s actions. In the case of Uber, however, the company will argue that it is not liable for the actions of its drivers when they cause accidents. However, the company is required to provide liability insurance to cover their drivers, passengers, and third parties, depending on the phase of driving the Uber driver is in.
Phases of driving for Uber insurance purposes
While Uber has a $1 million insurance policy for drivers, passengers, and third parties, the plan is divided into different phases for the amount of coverage that might be available. The coverage limits will depend on what the driver is doing with the Uber app at the time of the accident.
Not available – Phase zero
Phase zero occurs when an Uber driver is not using the app and is not available for rides. This occurs when the driver is using the vehicle for personal reasons. During this period, an accident caused by an Uber driver with someone else will not involve Uber’s insurance policy. Instead, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy will provide coverage. If the driver only has the minimum liability amounts required of California drivers, this means that your claim might be limited to $15,000 for bodily injury, $30,000 for two or more people who are injured, and $5,000 in property losses.
Available but waiting for a passenger – Phase one
If the Uber driver has the app turned on and is waiting for someone to call for a ride and has no passenger at the time of an accident, the driver’s policy will be the primary policy for Uber accident injury claims. If those limits are exhausted, then Uber’s policy will kick in and pay for additional damages suffered by a third party who is injured in an accident caused by the Uber driver. In this scenario, Uber will provide additional coverage that includes up to $50,000 per injured person, $100,000 for two or more injured people, and $25,000 for property losses. This coverage will not kick in unless the driver’s personal insurance is insufficient to cover all of the losses and the driver requests it.
Available and traveling to pick up a passenger – Phase two
Phase two occurs when the Uber driver has accepted a ride and is in transit to pick him or her up. If the Uber driver causes an accident when he or she is on the way to pick up a passenger, a third party who suffers injuries, the third party can file a claim under Uber’s $1 million liability policy. Uber might deny coverage if the driver’s personal insurance does not include a ride-share endorsement allowing him or her to drive for pay.
Available and actively transporting a passenger – Phase three
An Uber driver who is actively transporting a passenger is in phase three of the app. In this phase, the passenger and any other injured victims can tap into Uber’s $1 million liability policy if the Uber driver negligently causes an injury accident. The driver is also covered under the policy. If the Uber driver is involved in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, Uber has a $1 million UM/UIM policy to cover the damages.
Consider retaining an attorney
Insurance issues involving Uber accidents can be difficult to navigate. People who are injured in accidents involving Uber passengers might be eligible for different amounts, depending on the phase the driver was in and whether the Uber driver was partially or completely at fault. Determining liability and figuring out which phase a driver was in can help to determine the potential sources of recovery that might be available to you. An experienced Uber accident attorney might help you to determine whether the Uber driver was at fault and help you to seek the maximum recovery amount for your losses.