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Insurance Might Not Automatically Cover Uber Drivers

July 22, 2019 by Michael Sawaya

Woman passenger waving at the driver of the uber cab.

Like many people in Colorado, you may use your car to earn extra money as an Uber or Lyft driver or as a food service delivery driver for a company like GrubHub. If so, you must drive quite a lot. Unfortunately, the more you drive, the greater risk you face of getting into a car accident. For this reason, you should understand what insurance will protect you if you get into a collision that hurts you or others.

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft do provide some insurance. However, it covers only limited situations. Even when the ridesharing company’s insurance applies, it may cover only the injuries that you cause others to suffer and provide no coverage for your own injuries.

In many situations, you may need to turn to your own auto insurance coverage. However, if you fail to inform your insurance carrier that you use your personal vehicle for business use prior to a collision, the insurer may deny you coverage. You could be left without needed protection.

As we explain below, you should notify your personal automobile insurance carrier of any business use of your personal vehicle. You also need to ask for a copy of your insurance policy. You should closely review it to understand any coverages and exclusions that apply. Often, you can add an endorsement to your personal policy that will provide coverage if you use your personal vehicle for business use. The endorsement can be much cheaper than paying for commercial general liability coverage. 

How Does Uber and Lyft Insurance Coverage Work for Drivers?

Before we discuss how Uber and Lyft insurance works, let’s briefly discuss auto insurance in general. The purpose of this insurance is to protect you from financial losses if you get into an accident. Even though a car accident can involve many different types of insurance, the three main types that most often come into play in Colorado auto accidents are:

Liability – This insurance covers the bodily injury and property damage that you cause others to suffer in a collision, or when you are “at fault.” In Colorado, drivers must carry liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident (all persons)
  • $15,000 for property damage per accident.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist – This insurance, commonly called “UM/UIM,” covers the bodily injury that you suffer if another driver who causes your crash has no liability insurance or has insurance that fails to fully cover your losses. It also covers you in hit-and-run accidents. In Colorado, insurers must offer UM/UIM in amounts equal to your liability coverage. You have this coverage unless you reject it in writing.

Collision or comprehensive – This insurance covers the damage to your vehicle if you are in a collision with another car or if your car sustains damage in a non-collision event such as a fire. This is optional insurance coverage. However, a lender may require you to carry it. Typically, you must pay a deductible. You can receive this coverage regardless of who caused the accident.

Now, let’s turn to the type and amount of auto insurance coverage that will be available to you as an Uber or Lyft driver if you are involved in a crash. Generally, it will depend on what “period” you are in when an accident occurs. Ridesharing can be broken into three periods:

Period One – The app is on. You are waiting for a ride request.

During this period, if you cause an accident, Uber states that it will provide you with liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:

  • $50,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $100,000 for bodily injury per accident (all persons)
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident.

Lyft will provide liability coverage as well in the same amounts as Uber. However, Lyft states that its coverage is “contingent.” In other words, the Lyft coverage will kick in only if your own personal liability coverage does not cover you. If your insurance does cover you, then the Lyft coverage will be in excess of your personal coverage.

If another driver caused your collision and injuries, you would turn to that driver’s liability insurance. However, neither Uber nor Lyft provides UM/UIM or collision/comprehensive during this period. So, if necessary, you would need to file those types of claims with your own insurance company. As we stated above, you must make sure that your auto insurance carrier will provide coverage if you use your car for business use.

Period Two – The app is on. You are picking up or transporting a rider.

Both Uber and Lyft will provide liability coverage during this period. Uber states that it will provide “at least” $1 million per accident, while Lyft states that it will provide coverage with a $1 million “per accident limit.”

Additionally, Uber will provide:

  • UM/UIM bodily injury coverage of at least $1 million per accident
  • Contingent collision/comprehensive insurance (with a $1,000 deductible).

Lyft will provide:

  • UM/UIM bodily injury coverage (coverage limits vary by state)
  • Contingent collision/comprehensive insurance (with a $2,500 deductible).

Period Three – The app is off. You are using your car for personal reasons.

In this period, no ridesharing company will provide any coverage to you. Instead, you need to rely on your own liability, UM/UIM and collision/comprehensive coverage.

If You Drive for Uber or Lyft, What Auto Insurance Should You Consider?

If you drive for a rideshare company such as Uber or Lyft – in Colorado, these companies are called “transportation Uber driver taking picture on the car damage from accident.network companies,” or TNCs – you should notify your insurance carrier immediately. You need to inform your carrier that you use your vehicle for business use. If you do not have one, you should ask the carrier to provide you with a copy of your policy so that you can see whether exclusions apply to commercial use of your vehicle. If so, you should ask about different options for making sure you are covered – especially during “Period One” when your app is on, and you are waiting for a “ping” or “alert” from someone requesting a ride.

Today, many insurance companies in Colorado offer a rideshare endorsement. (The Rideshare Guy provides a good overview of options available in the state.) The endorsement may include not only liability coverage but also UM/UIM and collision/comprehensive.

Buying rideshare insurance can raise your current auto insurance rates by 20-25 percent, on average. Still, the rideshare endorsement may ultimately be a less expensive option than buying a commercial liability policy. The protection you get if an accident occurs will be worth the price.

Our Colorado Rideshare Accident Attorneys Can Help You Today

If you are involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, whether as a driver or rider, you should always seek help as soon as possible from an experienced Colorado personal injury lawyer. The Sawaya Law Firm will provide a free consultation. We can review the facts of your accident, assess liability and review the different types of insurance coverage available for your losses. If we agree to work together, our law firm will pursue the maximum amount available to you. To learn more, contact us today through our offices in Denver, Greeley or Colorado Springs.

Michael G Sawaya

Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.

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