IF YOU NEED A LYFT TO BOOST YOUR INCOME,
THEN UBER BETTER CHECK WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT FIRST!
Ridesharing businesses, like Uber and Lyft, have become so popular that they can no longer operate under the radar in the State of Florida. On July 1, 2017, House Bill 221 was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott addressing the insurance issue that has plagued Uber, Lyft and all other ridesharing businesses since their inception. The new law requires ridesharing drivers to carry $50,000.00 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $100,000.00 per accident and $25,000.00 in property damage liability coverage. Background checks performed by the ridesharing companies will be mandatory as well under this new law.
Uber and Lyft carry $1 million single limit bodily injury liability coverage and $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. These coverages are intended to be primary (meaning first in line to pay) if the ridesharing driver is en route to pick a customer up, or in the process of driving them to their destination up to the time they exit the vehicle. The problem area has been the time periods outside those parameters. Uber and Lyft provide $50,000.00 per person in bodily injury liability coverage, $100,000.00 per accident, and $25,000.00 for property damage for the period of time that the driver has the ridesharing application open and is available for a fare, only if the driver doesn't have this level of coverage, or the driver's insurance company denies the claim under their personal policy. The $1 million in ridesharing coverage does not apply to this period of time. If the driver is not on the ridesharing application, and thus unavailable for a fare, then their personal policy is the primary payor/coverage that applies.
In our practice, we see many problems with this situation as it currently exists post implementation of the new law. First, a driver's personal policy normally excludes from its coverage any "livery driving", which is delivery-type driving as a business for a fee. Whether it be delivery of items like flowers, pizza, etc., or delivery of people such as Uber and Lyft. Thus, a ridesharing driver's personal policy will not cover him or her when delivering people and might not cover them during the application open/available for fare time frame as it could be considered business driving, especially if the insurance company is not aware that the driver's vehicle is being used for business purposes. Secondly, since the insurance company is exposed to a greater risk of payout under the policy with the increased frequency of driving due to the nature of the business, they will likely cancel the coverage after the first claim is made, even if they were aware that the driver was using their car for this purpose. Additionally, the driver needs to carry their own collision and comprehensive coverage as ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft only provide these coverages while the driver is transporting riders, and only if the drivers have these coverages on their own policy. Furthermore, the deductible is $1,000.00 on the Uber/Lyft type policy.
The ridesharing driver can and probably should purchase commercial liability coverage which would solve these problems, but it is expensive. Some companies are starting to offer a specific ridesharing coverage, to supplement the personal vehicle coverage that the ridesharing driver has, but it is a very limited few right now in Florida that sell this particular insurance. Hopefully, now that this new law has passed, more companies will start offering this specialized coverage in Florida to solve these growing issues with ridesharing coverage. If you are a ridesharing driver, or plan to be one in the future, please consult with your insurance agent and advise them of this new use of your vehicle so that they can properly insure you for this business endeavor. Take heed, this also applies to any delivery use of your vehicle, not just ridesharing. Additionally, do not try to purchase this specialized coverage from an insurance company who sells on the Internet, or over the phone through a call center as this very complicated situation requires the advice and guidance of an experienced agent.