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Uber's insurance practices remain unclear


As backlash continues against Uber drivers in Ottawa, it’s clear that many unanswered questions remain around the rideshare company’s practices, including what type of insurance coverage it has in place to protect customers, Ottawa personal injury lawyer Howard Yegendorf tells 580 CFRA News Talk Radio.

In an interview with Mark Sutcliffe, Yegendorf says his firm, Howard Yegendorf & Associates LLP, has attempted to get a copy of Uber’s Ontario insurance policy to better understand its practices, but the company would only say each Uber vehicle in Ontario is covered by a $5-million policy.

As far as he understands, Yegendorf says Uber drivers require their own personal insurance policies, but he says it’s extremely unlikely commercial services would be covered under such a policy.

“They have essentially a personal automobile policy, the type that you or I would have – a million dollars of insurance, let’s say,” he says on the program.

“The problem with that is that your policy, my policy and every personal automobile policy in Ontario has a very specific exclusion excluding coverage for what’s called ‘transport for hire’ or a commercial policy such that a taxi would have. (With) a taxi policy, because they transport people for hire, the risk of an accident is so much higher so their insurance policy is about $7,000 a year. I doubt very much that Uber drivers are taking out policies such as that.”

In other words, the driver’s personal automobile policy most likely wouldn’t cover an accident where the driver is in the course of transporting people for hire, says Yegendorf.

There’s also what’s known as an umbrella policy, says Yegendorf, which is additional coverage on top of a primary policy that kicks in only when the primary limits have been exhausted.

But if the primary policy doesn’t apply at all, an umbrella policy is unlikely to be useful, since it’s only applicable when the primary policy is valid.

“I can’t tell you that that’s the same for the Uber policy because I haven’t seen the Uber policy,” says Yegendorf. “Let’s put it this way: there’s unanswered questions there at the very least about insurance coverage.”

From Yegendorf’s perspective, any ridesharing service should have solid insurance coverage that ensures the safety of its customers.

“They should have to be able to satisfy the city just as the taxi companies do that when citizens of Ontario or Ottawa get into a car they are fully insured in case the worst happens,” he says.

“That’s the situation with taxis. They are fully insured; that’s part of the regulation. I would feel comfortable getting into an Uber vehicle if I knew that I was fully insured. If I wasn’t satisfied with that I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting into one of their cars.”