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Feb. 5, 2015 - From Ohio PIA

Ridesharing continues to be a veritable can of worms to drivers, passengers, insurers, courts and anyone involved in an incident relating to a rideshare vehicle. On-going news stories demonstrate a dire need for insurance regulations for this market, and PIAA and state legislators have been working to find a solution.

The heart of the issue

Ridesharing and Transportation Network Companies (TNC) use non-professional drivers in their personal vehicles to deliver commercial rides to the public. TNCs charge a fee to connect passengers with drivers via a website or smartphone app. Passengers arrange rides and pay with a credit card via the TNC’s app. Well-known TNCs Uber and Lyft are currently operating in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, though Lyft “suspended” services in Columbus in January 2015.

Ridesharing is not covered by traditional personal auto insurance policies. Most policies have exclusions that apply when using a vehicle to transport people or property for a fee. But many people falsely believe that when they are riding in a vehicle provided by a TNC platform they are protected as if they were in either a taxi or a friend’s car with proper auto insurance coverage.

The insurance coverage gap for drivers, passengers and bystanders is the focus for state policymakers aiming to protect the public from uncovered risks associated with ridesharing. With the enactment of TNC insurance coverage laws in California, Colorado and Illinois last year, Ohio is expected to be one of many states engaging in the debate over ridesharing legislation.

Ohio efforts toward a solution
Reps. Bob Hackett (R-London) and Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) and Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) plan to introduce legislation to require TNCs or their drivers to provide insurance coverage for their passengers and the public during all phases of the ridesharing experience. With the legislation pending introduction, activity is heating up at the Statehouse, where PIAA recently participated in an interested-parties meeting on the bill with over 40 lobbyists and legislators in the room.

The crux of the legislative debate is the standard for which enhanced insurance coverage will be required for ridesharing drivers. Uber has adapted somewhat by providing commercial coverage to its drivers anytime a match is made and a passenger is in the vehicle, but opposes any additional requirements. This is a step in the right direction, but still leaves gaps in the coverage when the TNC drivers are between fares, looking for passengers with their app on.

PIAA and the insurance community are advocating for TNC coverage to apply as the primary and exclusive policy for the following periods: (1) when the app is turned on and the driver is waiting for a match, (2) when the match is made and the passenger is not yet in the car, and (3) when the passenger enters the vehicle and until the exit or whenever the app is turned off, whichever is later.

We are also interested in learning about your experiences with ridesharing services.  Have you been impacted by ridesharing? Are you driving or riding in TNC-operated vehicles? Have you sustained any injuries from ridesharing?  Contact us by clicking here.
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