One of the big debates in the battle over how to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Lyft, Sidecar, and uberX is over how to ensure adequate insurance. The Seattle City Council seemed pretty adamant about requiring insurance comparable to the commercial insurance required of taxi drivers, while the TNCs basically argued: “Don’t worry, we’re handling it, trust us.” Particularly offensive to the TNCs is a provision that requires that their blanket insurance cover drivers whenever they are logged into the system, not just when they are engaged with a passenger.
Good thing too, because insurance companies are busy updating their personal auto insurance policies to explicitly exclude coverage when the vehicle is used in connection with TNC services, for example, in the revision above that Amica has sent to customers:
We have excluded Medical Payments Coverage for bodily injury sustained by anyone other than you or any family member while occupying, or when struck by, your covered auto while it is enrolled in a personal vehicle sharing program under the terms of a written agreement and being used in connection with such program.
What exactly does this language mean? I’m not sure. But I wouldn’t count on my insurance company paying a claim on an incident that occurred while I was logged into a TNC. Or, perhaps, ever.
TNC boosters seem to think that because there’s an app, it changes everything! It doesn’t. Your personal auto insurance does not cover commercial for-hire use. So I’d make damn sure the TNC’s insurance does before assuming the liability that comes with being a for-hire driver.