Our attorney, Chris Short, recently wrote about insurance coverage for ride sharing apps in a blog post: https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/2018/5/14/uber-lyft-and-insurance-coverage-for-ride-sharing-apps. What I wanted to touch on today is a trend I am seeing that, as an injury attorney, makes me cringe. That is, when there may be no insurance coverage when you use ride sharing services outside of ride sharing companies.
The prevalence of ride sharing has exploded in recent years. That is, it is uber popular to catch a ride home from an app or to drive for a ride sharing company to pick up a few extra dollars on the weekends. Uber's most recent valuation was $72 million, while it's major competitor, Lyft, was valued at $15 billion in its latest funding round. So, it's no surprise that there is an instinct to cut out the middle man and advertise fee-based rides directly. These casual "ads" pop up on Craigslist, Facebook, Nextdoor, or other social media platforms or even among friends. "I'll give $20 to someone who can give me a ride to the airport tomorrow;" "Luxury car available for hire starting as low as $10;" "Uber Driver available for private hire."
If you are involved in an accident, either as the driver offering the rides, or a passenger paying for the ride, it is likely that you will not have insurance coverage for that accident. If you are not summoning a driver through Uber or Lyft and using the ride sharing company through the end of the ride, the insurance coverage provided by Uber and Lyft will not cover the accident as it only covers a vehicle. Secondly, most private insurance companies have specific exclusions for vehicles that are used for hire or for pay. We have handled cases where the insurance company refused to compensate passengers for injuries caused by an accident because they had paid the driver $10 to take them to their destination, leaving them with serious injuries.
Just because you are not using a ride sharing service does not mean that there would automatically be no insurance coverage. If you decide to summon a driver without using Lyft or Uber, make sure that you are using a reputable company with commercial insurance to cover you in the event that you are injured. Ask for proof of this insurance before you accept the ride. If you are unsure, use Lyft or Uber.
- Megan C. Kiefer is a partner and trial attorney at Kiefer & Kiefer, who specializes in accident and injury litigation.
This is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.