uber and lyft driver identified with stickers on windshield

A lot of the Uber and Lyft drivers do not have insurance that covers them as a commercial driver. In my experience, Uber delays and fights taking the appropriate responsibility for their drivers. Uber tries to say that they are not employees, so they have no coverage. Until I sued Uber.

Cyclist sues after Uber, private insurance fail to cover crash. The Oregonian October 14, 2015

Police recorded Pavenko's personal auto insurance information, but Root's attorney, Michael Colbach, said Pavenko's insurer wouldn't cover the liability because Pavenko was driving for hire at the time. The company, Liberty Mutual, is not included in the lawsuit. [...]

The companies say they teach drivers to present the commercial insurance information, a digital version of which is provided in the dispatching app, if they're pulled over or are involved in an accident while signed in.

It is probably not uncommon that a Uber or Lyft driver will provide their personal insurance when they are working and get into an accident. From a September 14, 2016 Time article, "Here's What You Need to Know About Insuring Yourself with Uber," this blogger and rideshare driver says,

Uber's and Lyft's insurance usually kicks in when a driver's personal auto insurance fails to cover the damages. A driver's insurer is likely to fight the charges, so this happens often — and can end with the driver losing his or her personal policy, says Harry Campbell, an L.A.-based ride share driver and the blogger behind "The Rideshare Guy."

The Rideshare Guy quoted above in that Time article, has another article on his blog from December 2014, "Rideshare's Little White Lie,"

I wouldn't advise lying to your insurance company since that's a crime. But let's say you decide to go through Uber/Lyft's insurance in order to avoid having your personal insurance company find out you got into an accident while rideshare driving. That strategy works well for the liability portion but since both companies offer collision coverage in excess, you will need to make a claim with your personal auto insurer first. If they deny it (which they likely will), then Lyft and Uber will step in to cover you. But you still run into the same problem as before since your insurance company will likely drop you from your policy once you admit to being a rideshare driver.

If you are involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, this is not a little problem.

If the rideshare driver first provides improperly, their personal insurance, and that then gets denied, at a minimum this will cause a long delay in getting the liability coverage provided to the injured party. In my Uber doored client's case, he waited 2 months to find out the Uber driver's personal policy declined to cover the loss, and after 3 months, Uber was still saying that they were reviewing the claim. Three months after The Oregonian article, in which an Uber spokesperson is quoted as saying they will cover the claim, I was still dealing with their dirty tactics in court.

Uber: You Can Now Lookup A Driver, See If Working At Time Of Accident

Uber now has a, "trip verification," tool on their webpage so that you can look up a driver to determine if a driver was using the UberPartner application at the time of an accident. They also have other useful claim reporting forms and contacts for passengers and drivers, or pointers/phone number for following up on a previously reported claim.

Uber, Lyft and their Contentious National Insurance Deal

Uber and Lyft have been contentious about insurance in cities and states across the USA, and their insurance is more complicated than most of the public and even rideshare drivers understand. First, there are different phases when a driver is working for either Uber or Lyft defined as:

  • Phase 1: the driver has the app on and is looking for a ride.
  • Phase 2: the driver is en route to pick up a rider.
  • Phase 3: the passenger is in the Uber or Lyft ride until they are out at their destination.

Unfortunately for the Uber and Lyft drivers, their personal insurance may sometimes cancel their policy when they find out that they are driving for Uber or Lyft. Since 2015 though, more states, and insurance companies, are starting to offer a special rider that a Uber or Lyft driver can add to their personal policy for their work for hire as a driver. These newer insurance offerings are helping both people that might get into an accident with a rideshare driver as well as the rideshare drivers themselves. But many Uber and Lyft drivers probably do not have this extra insurance rider which also costs significantly more than a personal insurance policy, though significantly less than commercial insurance like taxis are required to carry.

There are also many differences in the insurance coverage provided by Uber and Lyft both for the rideshare driver's collision, and deductibles, but also for the public bodily injury and damages coverage for max individual and total accident amounts.

2014 Uber Comes To Portland And Operates Illegally

When Uber first came to Portland it was beyond contentious, it was an all out war. The Portland City Council was deeply involved in debates around Uber, and Lyft. Taxi companies in Portland are required to carry the same coverage for Phase 1 as they are for Phase 2 and Phase 3, as was the case in many USA cities. But this is the National Coverage model below, that Uber and Lyft were pushing in 2015 after coming to Portland in 2014 and operating illegally, and they refused to pay for the same insurance as commercial drivers, like taxis or shuttle drivers do.

  • Phase 1: $50,000 liability per person for death or injury and $100,000 per incident plus $25,000 for property damage.
  • Phase 2: $1 million liability per accident, $2 million total claims for incident.
  • Phase 3: $1 million per accident, $2 million total claims for incident.

The Uber or Lyft driver themselves have no coverage from Uber nor Lyft for Phase 1 injuries, nor property damage, and their personal insurance probably will not cover them unless they have the special rideshare insurance rider with their personal insurance which would also protect them for all the things that the Uber and Lyft insurance are not covering. In Phase 2 or 3, if a driver has property damage to their vehicle, Uber or Lyft only cover that if the driver's personal policy has the collision coverage, and then also with very high deductibles.

Phase 1 coverage is insufficient for both the rideshare drivers themselves, and the public at large. Some insurance experts of taxi companies say 80-90% of accidents occur in Phase 1, when taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers are all hunting for passengers, and also because they spend the greatest amount of their time in this phase.

Uber, Lyft accused of cutting corners on insurance

Portland Tribune November 20, 2015

"A few days in the hospital, you're going to be exceeding that limit of $50,000," says Dan DeGrange, a sales executive with Propel Insurance, which insures all of Portland's traditional taxi companies. […]

DeGrange says more than 60 percent of taxi accidents occur before the driver gets dispatched, and he doesn't think Uber and Lyft drivers operate much differently from traditional taxi drivers. "The number ranges from 50 to 75 percent of all claims that occur during this period of time," he says, and often those are the most catastrophic claims. "The reason is they're trying to get to the fare."

In a practical share the road sense, Phase 1 when the rideshare driver, logged into the app and is hunting for passengers would be the most dangerous time for pedestrians and bicyclists, even motorcyclists and other cars. While hunting for their next fare, the rideshare drivers are constantly looking at their phone screens for riders to hail them through the mobile app, and for them to read the ride and respond promptly to get the rider. The Uber, Lyft, and Taxi drivers are competing with each other for those same riders, and circling in areas that are often congested and busy transportation hubs.

uber and lyft driver identified with stickers on the back of the car window.

Most Dangerous Phase

In 2015 Council member Nick Fish pointed out the problem with Phase 1 verses Phases 2 and 3 differing coverage and the deal Uber was pushing on the city of Portland as well as cities throughout the USA, while Council member Fritz also made a very important point.

As Uber, Lyft seek permanent welcome in Portland, insurance might be hangup November 9, 2015 The Oregonian

"If the public doesn't have to worry about Period One because there are so few accidents, it wouldn't cost them much to get the $1 million liability insurance," Fish said. "The reason you might not want to provide it is because you know that's when most of the accidents occur. In that case, why would the city allow them to have the least coverage in the period that's the greatest risk to the public?" [...]

At Portland International Airport, Fritz pointed out, Uber and Lyft are required to provide $1 million in coverage as soon as they arrive on the property.

In other words, what Council member Fritz pointed out is that at the Portland airport, Uber and Lyft did not have this Phase 1 difference in their insurance coverage as they did in Portland. The reason the Portland Airport has a higher level of insurance coverage required for Uber and Lyft drivers, the same requirement as taxis, is that the Port Authority is not an elected body, Uber couldn't use their dirty politics to leverage their war against the Port of Portland. Cities around the USA experienced not only the illegal operation but strong arm methods of pressuring cities to approve Uber and Lyft to operate how they wanted to operate, which was not in line with many USA cities like Portland, which already had city laws for commercial drivers and taxis.

2014 Uber's Greyball Software Used To Thwart Portland Regulators

In fact, in 2014 when Uber first came to Portland and operated illegally, not only did they operate illegally, they used software to avoid city code enforcers which was revealed publicly in 2017 in a NY Times article.

Uber Grey Ball Investigation - Portland to investigate Uber's 'Greyball' scheme to thwart regulators March 7, 2017 The Oregonian

The New York Times reported Friday that Uber had used software it called "Greyball" to identify and reject hails from city code enforcers at a time when it was operating illegally in Portland. […] Such an investigation could dredge up more details of the company's practices after it routinely launched without sanction from cities that said its model was barred by existing taxi regulations.

How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide The New York Times March 3, 2017:

The mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, said in a statement, "I am very concerned that Uber may have purposefully worked to thwart the city's job to protect the public."

Steve Novick My View: Fix my mistake on Uber insurance

Steve Novick now says he regrets allowing Uber and Lyft to operate in Portland with this lower insurance requirement than taxis, and explains his thinking at the time in this Portland Tribune op-ed October 12, 2017

Uber threatened war — i.e., to go back to operating illegally — if we insisted on an insurance requirement that departed from the "national agreement." I gave way, thinking, in part, that it was only a pilot program and we could revisit the insurance issue later. That was definitely a mistake. I should have listened harder to my own conscience.

Portland Fines Uber $3.5 Million March 2018

For now, Uber and Lyft are still operating in Portland under the old terms but it is evident that Portland city leaders are getting wise to their tactics.

City issues Uber a $3.5 million ticket March 13, 2018 KOIN News

The political tides have shifted dramatically for Uber in Portland, after revelations it used special Greyball software to evade city regulators when it began operating here illegally in 2014, and then took a year to notify the city and state that its driver and passenger records were hacked. Taxi companies unsuccessfully argued they paid $1 million in liability insurance and questioned why Uber and Lyft provided only $100,000 for what's called Period 1, when Uber and Lyft drivers are cruising around waiting to be dispatched or journeying to pick up a customer.

Uber and Public Safety

The modus operandi of Uber time and again demonstrates a disregard for the public safety. Their auto pilot vehicles pose a danger to pedestirans and bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other vulnerable roadway users. At the same time that they were fighting Portland and other cities and states throughout the USA and world, they started testing their auto pilot cars on California roads in defiance of the law, only days later, admitting this safety problem with these auto pilot vehicles and bike lanes:

Uber admits to self-driving car 'problem' in bike lanes as safety concerns mount

The Guardian December 19, 2016

Uber has admitted that there is a "problem" with the way autonomous vehicles cross bike lanes, raising serious questions about the safety of cyclists days after the company announced it would openly defy California regulators over self-driving vehicles. An Uber spokeswoman said on Monday that engineers were working to fix a flaw in the programming that advocates feared could have deadly consequences for cyclists. Uber began piloting its self-driving vehicles in its home town of San Francisco last week, despite state officials' declaration that the ride-share company needed special permits to test its technology. On day one, numerous autonomous vehicles – which have a driver in the front seat who can take control – were caught running red lights and committing a range of traffic violations.

The Cyclist Problem Self-driving cars aren't good at detecting cyclists. The latest proposed fix is a cop-out.

February 3, 2018 Slate

Autonomous cars have a potentially fatal flaw: They struggle to detect and react to cyclists on the road. According to a January 2017 report by IEEE Spectrum, bicycles are generally considered "the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face."

Uber's use of fewer safety sensors prompts questions after Arizona crash

March 27, 2018 Reuters

In scaling back to a single lidar on the Volvo, Uber introduced a blind zone around the perimeter of the SUV that cannot fully detect pedestrians, according to interviews with former employees and Raj Rajkumar, the head of Carnegie Mellon University's transportation center who has been working on self-driving technology for over a decade.


Lyft and Uber drivers run over a lot of people in Portland.

Contact me for a free consultation if you are hurt in an accident with a Lyft or Uber driver. Uber is the worst company I have ever dealt with. I want to help.