Florida Insurance Commissioner Cites Insurance Gaps for Uber, Warns Customers

Dec 04, 2015, 18:33 ET from Florida Taxicab Association (FTA)

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In a wide ranging interview, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty recently discussed insurance related to "transportation network companies" (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft.  During the interview, he confirmed that gaps in insurance coverage for companies such as Uber exist and consumers should beware.

McCarty stated that the Legislature should look to regulate TNCs, "including coverage gaps and coverage amounts and types of coverage and the need for consumer outreach and education regarding these new transportation services, because I don't think people are aware of the limitations that are on the coverage and it's not the same if they were in a taxicab."  (9:40 mark of McCarty Interview Part 1)

The Florida Taxicab Association (FTA) has consistently pointed out the gaps in coverage to regulators and policy makers.  "We are not against TNCs," said Roger Chapin, an FTA Board Member and Mears Transportation Executive.  "We just believe that instead of policy makers asking what can they do to accommodate Uber's business plan, they should simply be asking what should they be doing to protect the traveling public and their constituents."

The FTA believes all drivers whether they are individuals, taxi or Uber drivers should have coverage 24/7, not coverage that has gaps.  "We don't care if that insurance is provided by AllState or Uber, is commercial or hybrid", said Louie Minardi, President of the FTA and Tampa Yellow Cab owner.  "But is should be comprehensive and provide coverage at all times regardless of how the vehicle is being used, not some scam coverage with as many holes as a steel sieve."

In Florida taxis are required to have "commercial" insurance that exists 24/7 regardless of whether the taxi is on duty, off duty, driver is using the taxi for personal use, whether the meter is on or off or if the rider pays through an app or pays cash.  Uber on the other hand has many gaps in insurance coverage, including but not limited to:

  • Anytime an individual signs up to driver for Uber and does not inform their personal carrier (insurance fraud).  Coverage is compromised and could be cancelled retroactively in the event of a personal accident;
  • When a driver has the app on, but has not accepted a fare. Uber has claimed in the past that is "personal" use.  Insurance carriers have called that "commercial" activity, nullifying coverage in the event of an accident;
  • If an Uber driver violates the terms of conditions of their contract, Uber can deny a claim and personal coverage is also denied due to commercial use;
  • If an Uber driver accepts cash or encourages passengers to call them direct, basically going "off the app" as has been reported as a frequent practice for Uber drivers, then there is ZERO coverage;
  • If UberX is banned at an airport, but the UberX driver and passenger collude to avoid paying the commercial lane fee as has been discussed frequently on Uber driver forums, then no coverage exists;
  • If an Uber driver has not obtained the necessary permits, Uber could deny coverage and certainly personal carriers would deny any claim for commercial activity;
  • If an Uber driver lies on their application or a driver allows another driver to use their account;
  • Using a different car than the one listed on your Uber account.

"The passenger is at risk, but so is the driver," said Chapin.  "The uber model of 'sharing' a driver's personal insurance to accommodate their commercial business plan means essentially every UberX driver in Florida is committing insurance fraud.  At some point the music is going to stop and it's going to be the driver, the passenger or some third party that is left without a chair and facing serious liability issues."

SOURCE Florida Taxicab Association (FTA)