Friday, March 21, 2014

Seen these cars? Heard of ride sharing? Here's the insurance side of things...



Ridesharing companies use mobile apps to connect passengers with drivers using their personal cars to compete with taxi cab companies.  These companies have begun negotiations with the city to offer their services in Pittsburgh.  Uber and Lfyt are two of the more popular ones on the road thus far and both have launced their respective services just recently.  It turns out those mustaches on the front bumpers of cars around the area are more than just a fad gone wrong.
Unfortunately, the way that personal auto insurance policies are currently written, coverage may be voided for most of the drivers hired by theses services.  Following is the exclusion found in most personal automobile insurance policies:
 Any insured's liability arising out of the ownership or operation of a vehicle while it is being used as public or livery conveyance.  This exclusion (A.5.) does not apply to a share-the-expense car pool.
For a ridesharing driver to be covered properly, a commercial auto policy would need to be purchased due to the large liability exposure.  Please note that a commercial policy would be extremely expensive and not readily available in Pittsburgh's insurance marketplace.
Most major ridesharing services carry their own commercial auto insurance which offers limited liability coverage to passengers, other vehicles & pedestrians.  The ridesharing company's policy is intended to respond when drivers are en route to pick up a ridesharing client or have one in the car.  This policy would not cover the drivers when they are in between fares.  It is not clear if the ridesharing company's policy would cover damage to one of their driver's cars.  Potentially, there could be a lot of uninsured drivers on the road.  Even if you don't use one of these services you might want to call our office and check on your un and underinsured limits in the case you get into an accident with a ride sharing vehicle.
Until personal automobile insurance carriers begin to offer policies that address new exposures such as ridesharing, be extremely guarded when considering ridesharing as an occupation.  This may not be a good way to earn a second income.  Pizza delivery drivers face a similar issue.  There is a hidden exclusion in a delivery person’s personal auto insurance policy that states, "all coverage is excluded for any insured using vehicle while employed in the pickup or delivery of newspapers or magazines, food or any products for the purpose of compensation".  At a time of loss an insurance adjuster has the ability to deny coverage due to this exclusion in the policy. The same type of thing could be a possibility for ride sharing drivers so you want to check with your auto insurance carrier and the company you are thinking of being a part of before becoming a driver.  
As this is an ever changing new marketplace its best to keep up to date on how these companies are covered and know what risks you might be taking as an individual by being a passenger or a driver.  It's an exciting service that brings what seems to be a need for more cab service to the area, we just want you to be fully aware that there may be gaps in coverage from an insurance standpoint. 
Please feel free to call us at Pinnacle Insurance at 412-816-1000 if you have questions or feel we can be of service.