Uber Driving, Uber Insurance, and Uber Annoyances—Defending Yourself as a Driver

Even before the COVID emergency, ridesharing was a great new way to earn extra money. At first, it offered the benefits of taxi driving without the hassle of sitting in a taxi queue for hours at a time. Drivers signed up for the Uber app, then took passengers who were nearby if they were available to take them.

Unfortunately, driving on the roads means encountering other drivers, and that means accidents. Uber drivers quickly found that being an Uber driver did not mean Uber protection if they were in an accident—and sometimes found that their own insurance wasn’t enough if they were found to be responsible for the crash.

The law is catching up, but it seems like things are still stacked against the Uber driver just trying to earn a living. Uber accident attorneys are stepping in to help the drivers, as well as the passengers and, are here to tell you what you need to do to protect yourself and your passengers as well.

Insurance: What You Need and What You Want

All drivers in all states must carry liability insurance for their cars. What many drivers don’t know—and what Uber drivers learned too late—is that that insurance stops immediately if you are “transporting people or goods for money.” It’s called the commercial exemption, and likely you never thought about it before, because you never carried people or goods for money, unless it was for gas money on a long trip.

There are two ways to keep your vehicle coverage. One is simply to purchase commercial coverage. This can be expensive but recommended if you plan to make Uber a significant source of revenue. 

An alternative is to check with your insurance company and see if they have a business use endorsement. This is a rider to your personal coverage which allows coverage during part-time commercial use. 

This will also raise your rates but may not be as expensive as full commercial coverage. If you opt for this measure, it is essential you communicate honestly and fully with your insurance agent. Not only is that the law, but your agent will also be able to provide you with the best available rates for what you need.

In either case, California requires timeshare drivers to have a $50,000/$100,000/$30,000 policy either on their own or through the company. Uber insurance attorneys strongly encourage drivers to carry full personal insurance on their vehicle, so that they are covered in the event of issues with the company.

Protecting Yourself While Driving

The best way to prevent insurance issues is to be able to provide evidence that you were not at fault in any rideshare accident or claim. Uber has begun requiring in-vehicle cameras, but camera monitoring is a good idea for protection in any case. 

If you choose to have video monitoring, the vehicle must contain easily visible signs warning passengers that they are subject to video monitoring while in the vehicle. Cameras should face both the passenger compartment and the driver, and a forward-facing dashcam focused to obtain license plate numbers.

Do not drink or use narcotics before or during your on-app hours. That should seem obvious, but your lawyer will need to demonstrate not just that you had a clean BAC this time, but that you have a pattern of not imbibing while driving. Nothing makes opposing counsel happier than a driver saying “I wasn’t drinking today…”

Do not become distracted while driving. There has been a disturbing trend recently of anti-maskers starting arguments with their Uber drivers, leading to the drivers arguing back, and subsequent legal action. 

People with strong political views or passionate beliefs may have legitimate points, but you should not engage them while you are driving. They may also just want to provoke someone they can sue later, and you do not want to be that person.

Protecting Yourself With Uber

California has taken strong steps to force Uber to classify its drivers as quasi-employees. New laws, called wage/hour laws, while not granting Uber drivers hourly rates, do give them access to health insurance and company driver insurance, perhaps the most important thing for drivers. Uber initially avoided liability for driver accidents or misconduct by calling them “independent contractors.” Now, Uber has to shoulder some of the responsibility.

Uber is required to carry a $1 million policy that covers drivers and passengers once a driver has accepted a pickup and until the passenger has been delivered to their destination. 

Uber is also required to do a background check on all drivers, and should not be accepting any drivers with questionable driving histories and criminal pasts. If that is you, you should not be driving for Uber for your own protection.

Honesty is the best policy here. Report all accidents to Uber, according to their reporting policy. Also, report such accidents to your insurance company. If there is any question at all about who was responsible, consult with uber accident attorneys

Remember that you are not an Uber employee, and the company is not obligated to provide you a lawyer, nor will they likely have your best interests at heart if they do. If you are an Uber driver and get into an accident, you should behave as if you are on your own.

Driving for Uber can be quite lucrative and a good source of income for the underemployed. Be careful, drive safely, and remember you are working for yourself, and you will be successful.