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Understanding liability in ridesharing accidents

As more and more California residents use ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, instead of taxis, understanding the implications of car accidents involving these vehicles becomes increasingly important. As Wired reports, ridesharing services began an increased insurance coverage for drivers in July 2015.

Forced to clarify the policy after the tragic death of a child, these services are now at least partially responsible for covering against claims from third parties any time their drivers are logged into the app. However, collision insurance is only provided through the ridesharing company when a driver either has a passenger or is on the way to pick one up. This means that if a car is hit by an Uber or Lyft driver who is logged into the app when he or she did not have a passenger in the car and was still waiting for a rider, the driver’s personal insurance is held liable. Company insurance is used for accidents occurring while passengers are in the car, the driver is on the way to pick someone up or the driver has the app on, but hits a pedestrian or causes some other property damage.

For rideshare drivers, Money magazine explains that the insurance process is even more complicated. Many personal insurers do not want to cover these drivers in their personal driving because of the liability involved, and withholding one’s status as a Lyft or Uber driver could be considered fraud. Now companies are offering special insurance targeted towards rideshare drivers, which have higher premiums than personal car insurance, but are not as expensive as a commercial driver policy.

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