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How much insurance does Uber offer when transporting a rider?

Ride-sharing, app-based Uber transportation service provides the following coverages: Liability, No Fault, UM/UIM, property damage, comprehensive and collision

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This is my fourth and final blog in a series about Uber, the app-based, ride-sharing service. The insurance issues I’ve been analyzing in these blogs will soon change from theoretical to very real – at least for the people injured in an Uber – now that Uber has rolled into  Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint and Kalamazoo.

I realize insurance is not exactly a hot topic of conversation (even for attorneys), but it will be soon. There will inevitably be car accidents, and these insurance issues are about to become very important for people affected (and by the personal auto insurers that I also see denying No Fault PIP and third-party tort coverage – see my blog posts on this topic from earlier this week).

Here are some of the insurance issues I see arising:

Significantly, in a recent interview with MLive, Uber addressed those questions by explaining, “while a ride is in progress,” Uber “maintains commercial auto insurance on behalf of partner drivers that provides”:

  • “Michigan No-Fault coverages including Michigan Personal Injury Protection”
  • “$1MM of Michigan Property Protection Insurance.”
  • “$1 million per incident coverage for third-party liability …”
  • “$1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, which would cover occupants of the rideshare vehicle if another motorist caused an accident and did not have adequate insurance.”

In a March 2014, blog post, “Eliminating Ridesharing Insurance Ambiguity,” and in a blog post, “Insurance for UberX with Ridesharing,” which was originally published on February 10, 2014, but was updated on July 22, 2014, Uber provides more specifics about the commercial coverage it provides when an Uber driver is on-duty and is transporting a rider:

  • Liability coverage: “From the time a driver accepts a trip request through our app until the completion of the ride, our partners have $1 million of coverage for driver liability. … Drivers’ liability to third parties is covered from the moment a driver accepts a trip to its completion. This policy is expressly primary to any personal auto insurance coverage.”
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: “We … include $1 million of coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists, meaning that passengers and drivers are also covered for injuries when another party is at fault and lacks sufficient insurance. This $1 million coverage from trip acceptance to drop-off is consistent across cities. This coverage kicks in regardless of whether the driver’s personal insurance applies to the trip. … In the event that another motorist causes an accident with an uberX vehicle and doesn’t carry adequate insurance, this policy covers bodily injury to all occupants of the rideshare vehicle.”
  • Comprehensive & collision coverage: “We have also added contingent comprehensive and collision insurance during trips, up to $50,000/incident with a $1,000 deductible. … If a ridesharing driver holds personal comprehensive and collision insurance this policy covers physical damage to that vehicle that occurs during a trip, for any reason, up to $50,000 and with a $1,000 deductible.”
  • No Fault coverage: “No fault coverage (e.g. personal injury protection) is provided in certain states at similar levels as limos and taxis in those cities.” Under Michigan law, a “limo carrier of passengers,” i.e., a taxi or limousine driver, must have “Personal protection insurance … as required by” Michigan’s No Fault law. (MCL 257.1913(2)(c))

Using the “Uber” information above, I will discuss below my answers to the questions I posed at the beginning of this blog post.

If I’m using Uber as a passenger, the Uber driver gets in a crash and I’m injured and I endure pain and suffering as a result of my injuries and impairment, then I have two options for recovery of compensation:

  • If the Uber driver was at-fault, then I may be able to pursue a negligence claim against him and recover under Uber’s $1 million liability coverage and, under certain circumstances, Uber’s $1 million “underinsured” motorist coverage.
  • If another driver was at-fault in causing the accident that caused my injuries, then I may be able to pursue a negligence claim against the other driver and recover under his or her liability policy. And if the other driver was either “uninsured” or “underinsured” (i.e., carried the minimum or minimal liability coverage), then I may be able to recover under Uber’s $1 million “uninsured” and “underinsured” motorist coverage.
  • If I’m using Uber as a passenger, the Uber driver gets in a crash and I’m injured and I need No Fault benefits to cover, among other things, my accident-related medical expenses and lost wages, then I will have two options for collecting No Fault benefits:
    1. If I am covered by my own No Fault auto insurance policy or the policy of my spouse or of a resident relative, then my No Fault benefits will be paid for by the auto insurer who issued the policy.
    2. If I am not covered by any of the policies described above and, thus, I am “not entitled to personal protection insurance benefits under any other policy,” then my No Fault benefits will be paid for by “the insurer of the [Uber driver’s] motor vehicle.” (See MCL 500.3114(2)(e))

Under the second option, the “insurer of the motor vehicle” will likely be either the insurer who wrote the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance policy (assuming the policy doesn’t contain a “commercial use” exclusion to preclude coverage) or the insurer who wrote the policy for Uber’s commercial coverage of the Uber’s driver’s vehicle.

If neither of those insurers are deemed liable, then as an injured Uber passenger in need of No Fault benefits, I would have to turn to the Michigan “Assigned Claims Plan,” which is administered by the Michigan Auto Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF).

To learn more about applying for No Fault benefits through the “Assigned Claims Plan” and MAIPF, please check out Michigan Auto Law’s blog post, “Assigned Claims Facility now called the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF).”

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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