Ridesharing insurance does not cover all risks: Opinion

Experts argue that ridesharing coverage behaves like a private insurance product

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

While provinces across the country have worked to ensure that transportation network companies (TNCs) operate with ridesharing coverage, the idiosyncrasies of such specialized coverage could cause more problems, experts claim in a recent Law Times article.

Ridesharing insurance is a product created to plug gaps in the ridesharing process. The coverage is in effect from the moment a ridesharing driver activates his/her respective ridesharing app to find customers until passengers alight the driver’s vehicle. Prior to the introduction of ridesharing insurance, this phase in the ridesharing process was a gray area that neither private nor commercial insurers would cover for.

Recently, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) approved such an auto insurance policy that covers all Uber drivers, passengers and vehicle owners in Ontario.

“Typically, when you own insurance as a private citizen, there is a restriction on driving for a fee or in a commercial capacity,” Stephen Birman, a partner at Thomson Rogers Lawyers specializing in personal injury law, told the publication. “This standard insurance policy now protects all Uber drivers and anyone injured in an Uber vehicle or pedestrians. It provides standard accident benefit coverage and third party coverage. Intact says coverage applies across the board to all drivers and the FSCO has approved it, so you can be confident it applies when the app is active.”

Ridesharing insurance covers drivers as they use their apps, but there could be a pre- and post-app period where private insurance should apply but in many cases may not, some experts assert.

“The problem is that private insurers do not like it when you are using your vehicle for commercial purposes,” Ambridge Law LLP Personal Injury Lawyers partner Elliott Ambridge told Law Times. “They may say they won’t cover you at all other times. It comes down to the question of how private insurance companies will react.”  

TNCs such as Uber effectively have commercial fleet insurance thanks to regulatory change under the Insurance Act. Some experts, however, stress that while the coverage mechanically works like commercial insurance, it is still considered private insurance coverage.

“. . . People may not be aware that ride-sharing changes potential coverage,” Howie Sacks & Henry LLP personal injury lawyer Kaitlyn MacDonell told the publication. “An insurance policy is based on an assessment of risk. Carrying passengers for payment is an additional risk factor. The potential is there that a personal insurer will take an off-coverage position if a person is driving commercially. There’s still a vulnerable population out there.”

Related stories:
Consultant recommends ride-hailing restrictions for Windsor
Alberta setting auto insurance standard: Opinion

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