The Gore Law Firm’s Series on Driver Services:
December is a busy month for travel, with people preparing for the holidays, attending festive events, and spending extra time with friends and loved ones. As the streets become more crowded, you might consider taking a driver service like Lyft or Uber. But before you sit in the passenger seat, you should be aware of the company’s insurance coverage.
Last year, the State of Georgia passed new regulations related to ride-hailing companies (see HB 190 and HB 225). The bills were designed to fill so-called “gaps” in insurance coverage, and provide further assurances to both drivers and passengers. Under HB190 and HB 225, ride-hailing companies such as Lyft and Uber must register with the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The companies must also provide $100,000 in bodily injury, $50,000 in property damage, and $1M in liability insurance coverage – effective from when the driver accepts a ride request, to when that ride or transaction is complete. However, what these new laws do not cover is the Lyft or Uber driver’s personal insurance policies. It is likely that the driver’s personal policy excludes insurance coverage if they get into a collision while working for Lyft or Uber. Also, the new legislation does not provide any guidance if the driver themselves are at fault for any property damage.
So, what does this mean for passengers? If a collision happens while you are riding in the car with the Lyft or Uber driver, both you and the driver are supposedly covered under the company’s one-million-dollar liability coverage policy. But collecting under that policy can be a challenge. To begin, Lyft and Uber are technology providers, connecting people who need transportation with independent contractors who can provide that transportation. Drivers are not considered employees, and therefore, the companies may claim they are not responsible for the individual driver’s actions or behaviors. So, for example, the companies may deny liability if the driver was drunk, reckless or otherwise negligent, because that driver is an “independent contractor” and not a “full-time company employee”. Also, if these driver service companies deny liability, the passenger may be forced to file a claim with the Lyft or Uber driver’s personal insurance company – in which case, the driver’s level of coverage may be unclear.
If you are considering ordering a ride with a company like Lyft or Uber, it is important to consider what type of insurance coverage these drivers carry, whether personal or through the driver service company. For additional information about vehicle insurance, or, if you need help with a personal injury claim, give The Gore Law Firm a call today at (404) 436-1529.