As a personal injury lawyer, I get asked some interesting questions at parties. Usually, it’s about suing a neighbour for negligent garbage can positioning that resulted in a spectacularly awkward trip and fall, or something like that.
Occasionally however, people ask about ride-sharing and whether or not they, as passengers, are covered in the event of an accident. Here’s what you need to know:
The Short Answer Is Yes
Whether or not you have car insurance of your own, you are covered as a passenger in an Uber or a Lyft ride-sharing scenario. If your driver gets into an accident and you are injured, there is coverage that has been available since 2016 for Uber drivers, through Intact Insurance. For Lyft driver, their policies have been managed through Aviva, since 2017.
What Was Happening Before 2016/2017?
Technically, Uber and Lyft drivers were exposing themselves to enormous liability. Why? Every personal vehicle insurance policy in Ontario prohibits the use of the vehicle for commercial purposes. An insurance company that discovered a driver was doing so would be well within their rights to cancel the policy outright, leaving the driver high and dry. It could also have left the driver personally responsible for injury claims made against them by passengers.
Passengers would still have had recourse to that insurance company, but only up to a limit of $200,000.00. However, imagine there are several people who were passengers at the time of the accident, and all of them injured. $200,000.00 doesn’t go very far, split 3 ways.
Ride-sharing apps, and indeed the whole sharing economy, came up on the government of Ontario like a sneak attack. No, not really, but like all large institutions, the government was a little slow on the uptake.
In July 2016, FSCO—Financial Services Commission of Ontario, the province’s insurance regulator—approved a new blanket fleet coverage for Uber drivers, which finally filled this insurance liability gap.
How does it work?
From the moment the Uber driver activates their app and is ‘available’ for rides, through rides and until they turn off the app and return to using their vehicle for personal use, the driver and their passengers are covered by this new blanket fleet policy.
The driver must have a personal automobile policy and they must advise their insurance company that they are driving passengers through a ride-sharing app.
The collision and comprehensive coverage that they have on their personal policy applies to the vehicle, even when the fleet policy is in force, with certain conditions (ie. when the app is turned on). The additional coverages that Intact provide are:
- Standard statutory accident benefits;
- Uninsured motorist coverage;
- Third party liability coverage, up to $1 million if the app has been activated but there are no passengers; that number jumps to $2 million when a ride has been accepted.
Lyft drivers and passengers have the same level of coverage, with Aviva.
Is this coverage sufficient for passengers?
The coverage offered through these policies is the standard amount but again, if there were several claimants in an accident, the limit would be applied to all of them. In other words, if there was a passenger and a pedestrian who were hurt during the course of an Uber drive, the $2 million dollar limit would be for both, not each.
You can protect yourself, in the event of injury, by ensuring that your own personal auto policy has the optional Accident Benefits options applied. It increases your benefits from a basic minimum of $65,000.00 for medical / rehabilitation and attendant care expenses to upwards of $2 million for catastrophic injuries. (To find out more about this, continue here)
The move towards securing ride-sharing for in everyone’s interest: drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike. If you are injured in an accident involving a ride-share vehicle, make sure you contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you are getting everything you need to get your life back on track.