Uber Confusing—Understanding Rideshare Liability and Insurance Coverage

Car with Rideshare banner over itWhether you’re trying to decrease your carbon footprint, save time on parking, or limit the stress of driving, rideshare services are great for helping people get from here to there. Over the past decade, rideshare companies have been rolling across the United States to provide taxi-like personal transportation and carpool services for those in need. The two most notable rideshare companies are Uber and Lyft.

The best parts about rideshares are:

  • They provide transportation when you need it. There isn’t a need to rummage through taxi services in the yellow pages or wait for the nearest cabbie to drop off his fare. Dozens of drivers are ready to pick you up wherever and whenever you need them.
  • They provide jobs. Most rideshare drivers are part-time students or locals who use their own vehicles to pick up passengers. These drivers are also allowed to work on their own schedules, which helps eliminate road-rage.
  • They provide convenience. Most companies provide apps that can be easily accessed from your phone, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

So what’s the downside? Well, since rideshare drivers tend to use their own vehicles, in the event of an accident, collision liability can become a problem.

Ridesharing Liability and Insurance    

When you accept the terms of a rideshare and pay to become a passenger, you expect a certain level of safety. In fact, although the majority of employees are not “professional drivers,” rideshare companies imply that a part of your fee goes toward driver background checks, motor vehicle screenings, and driver safety education. As an additional level of protection, these companies are required to have insurance in case of potential collisions. However, this insurance isn’t necessarily what you’d expect.

Rideshares often have what is known as commercial insurance. Commercial insurance determines coverage based on the situation of the vehicle and driver during the accident as follows: 

  • Situation One: Coverage for driver damages during personal use. When an employed rideshare driver is using his vehicle for personal purposes, even though he may still be considered in the employ of the rideshare company, commercial insurance doesn’t apply. If he is in an accident, his personal auto insurance will be liable for damages.
  • Situation Two: Coverage for driver (at-fault) damages without a passenger. When a driver is “on-the-clock” and is in an accident, but doesn’t currently have a passenger, again his personal auto insurance will be liable. However, if the driver’s personal insurance fails to cover all damages to persons or property, additional coverage may be provided under the rideshare’s commercial insurance. For example, Uber provides a contingent liability coverage of $50,000 per injury (up to $100,000) and up to $25,000 in property damage, if the driver’s personal insurance doesn’t cover all the damages.
  • Situation Three: Coverage for driver (not at-fault) damages without a passenger. Tennessee is a fault state, which means that if the driver wasn’t liable for the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance must cover all damages.
  • Situation Four: Coverage for driver (at-fault) damages with a passenger. When an accident occurs while a driver is carrying a passenger, the passenger and driver are both covered by the rideshare’s commercial insurance.
  • Situation Five: Coverage for driver (not at-fault) damages with a passenger. At-fault driver’s insurance is liable for all damages caused to the rideshare driver and passenger.
  • Situation Six: Coverage for passenger damages when at-fault driver is uninsured. If an uninsured driver is responsible for your injuries, rideshare’s commercial insurance will cover up to $1 million worth of medical expenses for the entire car’s occupancy—if there are four passengers, each passenger is eligible for $250,000 in coverage if needed.

Ensuring Your Rights Are Upheld

Insurance companies are quick to find ways to pass blame and deny coverage. If you or a loved one was injured in a Uber, Lyft, or Taxi accident—or if you were injured in a car accident while visiting Nashville—you can’t afford to be taken for a ride by the insurance company. Contact our Franklin office today (615-807-7900) to setup your FREE case evaluation.

As a former insurance claims adjuster, our founder, John Griffith, knows the methods used by insurance companies to take advantage of victims and how to counteract them. Don't settle for a mediocre offer when you deserve much more. Call us today and see how we can help you file a personal injury claim that will be strong enough to warrant the compensation your injuries require.