It is impossible not to notice the rise in popularity of ride sharing companies across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the rest of the country. Even in Philadelphia, where Uber is not even approved by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, its popularity continues to grow. As the number of people using Uber, both as drivers and as passengers, continues to grow, so to the number of people injured in Uber car accidents. If you are in an Uber car accident, how can a car accident lawyer help protect you?
The way Uber operates is that individuals, if they pass a background check and own a car that meets specific requirements, can offer ride sharing whenever they choose to turn on their App. However, despite using the vehicles for commercial purposes, the drivers are not required to carry commercial insurance policies. Though the drivers are carrying personal insurance policies for their vehicles, personal insurance policies exclude commercial use. This is important if you are in an Uber car accident, because it could leave a major gap in coverage, leaving your car accident lawyer limited insurance benefits to recover. Fortunately, Uber covers this gap, by providing $1 million in liability coverage for their driver’s negligence and $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage. However, you are only legally covered from the time the Uber driver picks you up, until the time you are dropped off. This is among the many grey areas where questions remain regarding insurance coverage for Uber car accidents.
Uber is operating in Pennsylvania under an experimental license issued by the Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) that is set to expire this year. The PUC identified four stages of activity for companies like Uber:
Stage 0: is when the Uber driver is driving for personal reasons and the App is closed.
Stage 1: is when the Uber driver opens up the App and logs onto the system.
Stage 2: is when the Uber driver receives and accepts a ride request and is traveling to pick up the passenger
Stage 3: is when the Uber driver picks up the passenger, drives the passenger to the destination, and the passenger exits the vehicle.
If you are in an Uber car accident during Stage 0, when the Uber driver is using the vehicle for personal purposes and the App is closed, your car accident lawyer may seek coverage covered through the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance policy. Uber’s commercial policy provided by will not provide coverage at all.
If you are in an Uber car accident after the Uber driver has picked you up and you are on your way to the drop off point, the $1 million coverage applies. But, when the Uber driver turns on the App, but has not picked up the passenger, Uber can reduce the coverage, lower the limits, and/or raise the deductible. If the Uber driver is liable for the accident, and the injuries are severe, your car accident lawyer may potentially have to seek compensation from the Uber driver personally, beyond the potentially minimal coverage provided by Uber, because the Uber driver’s personal insurance will deny due to commercial use.
Some insurance companies have begun to offer gap coverage, or “business use” designations to be applied to personal car insurance policies to make up for the gaps in coverage. Aware of this swiftly evolving industry, the PUC is requiring Uber to clearly and adequately inform drivers, in writing, of the levels of coverage provided during States 1, 2, and the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner has urged potential drivers of Uber to find out from their insurance companies what affect being an Uber driver will have on their insurance coverage and to ensure they have adequate coverage for themselves and their passengers if they are in an Uber car accident.Back To All of our Blog Stories A