The future of ride-sharing remains murky in the city of Hamilton, as pending licensing and dispatching fees could dissuade drivers from taking out the commercial insurance required to operate within the municipality.
The city, which banned the operation of ride-share programs without coverage on April 20, has proposed an additional $50,000 licencing fee and $20,000 dispatching fee to further ‘level the playing field’ between Uber and the existing taxi industry. The proposal will be open to public hearing throughout the summer before being passed as a bylaw.
However, one local insurance professional says this uncertain outcome – and a lack of general knowledge on the issue – could dissuade some drivers from seeking out the type of coverage they need to operate legally in the meantime.
“There’s a lot of interest coming in for quotes,” says Peter Van Dyk, account executive at PV&V Insurance Centre Ltd. which offers Aviva’s Ride-sharing insurance product. “And it’s not a terrible price point, but considering a lot of the Uber drivers have never had to pay for this before, it’s a shock to them.
“…they don’t want to cancel their policies mid-term, and jump over to something with that uncertainty.”
He adds that for many drivers, shirking insurance requirements may not be intentional and calls for increased awareness initiatives to educate drivers. “I would say they’re not even aware to a certain extent. When I take Uber around the city, there are drivers that know what’s happening, but Uber could do a better job of letting their drivers know this product is available – that would be a next step,” he says, adding that a growing shared economy marketplace and increased competition among providers would help stoke awareness.
“Whether it’s Airbnb, whether it’s Uber, moving forward it’s not going to be just part of the shared economy, it’s part of the economy, and insurers need to make products available so they can continue doing business.”