In the greater Washington D.C. area, Uber has become a convenient way to travel. With their convenient smartphone application, and fares lower than local taxis, Uber has been expanding and hiring new drivers at an impressive rate. It is convenient and economical, but if you get in an accident as an Uber passenger, will your medical needs be covered?
If you download the Uber app, you will find three different levels of cars are typically available: UberX, UberBlack, and UberSUV. The UberBlack and UberSUV drivers are licensed professionals and are required to carry commercial insurance. In many metropolitan areas there is also an UberTAXI category. UberTAXI drivers are currently certified and licensed by the city, and drive commercial taxi vehicles. In UberBlack, UberSUV, and UberTAXI vehicles, a passenger will have the comfort of the same kinds of coverage they would expect in most taxis and limousines.
But who are the UberX drivers, what are their qualifications, and what type of insurance do they have? On their website, Uber specifies that UberX drivers must be at least 23 years old, with a personal license and personal auto insurance. They require 4-door vehicles, with model years no older than 2006. These are typically non-professionals driving their own cars. So what if you, as a passenger in an UberX car, are injured in an accident?
Usually, if you are injured as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle due to their negligence, you can recover from the following sources:
- Liability policy on the vehicle (if the vehicle is not owned by the driver)
- Liability policy from the driver
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage on which you are a named insured
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage of any family member living in your home at the time of the accident
In general, though, any personal insurance policy will exclude coverage for passengers who pay money for the trip. That means if you are injured in an accident as a passenger in an UberX ride, the liability policy on the vehicle and the driver’s policy most likely will not cover you.
While Uber holds a policy with limits of $1 million per-incident, there is still some question as to whether that policy will cover passengers injured as a result of an UberX driver’s negligence. The policy is issued by James River, with the primary insured listed as Raiser LLC, Raiser–CA LLC and Raiser-DC LLC, with Uber listed as an “additional insured.” When a potential claim arises, James River might deny coverage if it does not arise out of the negligence of its named insured policy holders.
If you are injured in an accident as a passenger in an Uber car, you might need to rely on your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to compensate your injuries.