More hours on the road means Uber drivers everywhere have higher chances of getting into car accidents. It’s not certain that you’ll get into an accident, but chances are better than your average driver. Your best course of action is to be prepared and informed.
Questions you should be able to answer as a rideshare driver:
- What happens if you do get into an accident?
- Does Uber have car insurance for their partners?
- What exclusions do they have?
Car owners know that their personal auto insurance coverage has many exclusions, what you may not know, is that your personal policy may not cover you when driving as a rideshare driver. If you get into an accident while driving for Uber or Lyft, your auto insurance policy might classify your car as a “commercial vehicle”, and will not offer any collision or liability coverage.
So what should rideshare drivers do to protect themselves in the case of accidents that occur while driving?
What to Do in Case of an Accident?
First, if you get into an accident when driving for a rideshare company, stay calm. Then, go down this list and assess your options.
1. Be Familiar with the Uber Period
Uber provides rideshare insurance for its driver partners, a form of commercial insurance, but that doesn’t mean it takes effect immediately after the driver turns the app on. Once the app is switched on, the driver’s time is divided into three periods. Uber then determines when their insurance is applied based on the period the accident took place.
1st Period – Uber App is on While Driver Waits for Request
Unfortunately, Uber’s rideshare policy doesn’t take responsibility for any accidents that occur before a driver accepts a passenger. This is because Uber considers drivers as ‘contractors’ rather than ’employees.’ Therefore, they take no responsibility for what happens while the driver isn’t on duty. Uber only considers drivers ‘on the clock’ once a rider has requested a ride. If you get into an accident during this period and don’t have a rideshare insurance policy or commercial auto insurance, you’ll have to see if you can claim it on your personal auto policy.
2nd Period – Driver is on His Way to Pick Up Passenger
Once there is a ride request, and the partner driver accepts, this puts the driver in ‘on duty’ status and Uber’s coverage will start. This can, however, be tricky.
If the driver gets in an accident before he/she is able to pick up the passenger, it follows that the passenger would have to cancel the ride. This adds a layer of difficulty when claiming coverage.
In this scenario, Uber doesn’t technically know whether the accident happened before or after the cancellation. This means you could have had an accident in the second period, but Uber may argue it occurred during the first period.
3rd Period – The Passenger is in the Vehicle
This is the easiest period to claim insurance coverage from Uber. Since the passenger is in the car, Uber considers the driver “on duty” and will cover whatever happens during this period.
2. Check if Everyone is Okay
Accidents can rattle anyone, but a driver must first ensure that everyone is okay when an accident takes place. If a passenger is injured or unconscious, the driver should call the paramedics immediately. Drivers should also stay on the side of the road following an accident if possible. This will help prevent more accidents.
It is also important to see a doctor even if nothing seems to be wrong. Some injuries don’t manifest themselves immediately, and it’s better to treat any injuries before they worsen.
3. Document the Accident and Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
— Zachar Law Firm (@ZacharLaw) September 13, 2017
Remember that the 2nd Uber period can be a difficult time to claim coverage from Uber. That means it’s crucial that the driver documents the accident and takes a screenshot on his phone to prove that the accident happened prior to the cancellation. In fact, regardless of the Uber period, Uber encourages drivers to thoroughly document the incident.
It also helps if the driver talks to witnesses and records their statements. While doing this, the driver should note witnesses’ contact information. It’ll also be helpful to ask for police assistance. The driver can ask for the police report of the accident.
4. Contact Personal Insurance
In an accident, when there is damage to the driver’s vehicle only, the driver should call his or her own personal company insurance. On the other hand, the involvement of other vehicles in the accident will warrant a call the other party’s insurance company. Both insurance companies should be given the details of the accident, so they can also start their own investigation to determine who was at fault.
Normally, the driver would pay a deductible, but this can be reimbursed once it’s proven to not be at fault. In this kind of situation, the driver does not need to involve Uber.
5. Hire a Lawyer
Ridesharing partners, since they’re considered ‘driving for hire,’ may find their insurance claims tricky. Car insurance companies can use the driver’s professional status as a reason to deny their claims. That’s why it’s important to get in touch with a lawyer when filing for claims, especially if the accident involves injuries.
Drivers can get free consultations and their lawyer can talk to both Uber and their personal car insurance company on their behalf. Due to possible complications, drivers should seek help from an experienced lawyer.
While all drivers are at some risk on the road, the risk of accidents is higher for Uber and rideshare drivers. They are on the road longer and they are more likely to get sleepy behind the wheel.
Additionally, depending on your state, as a rideshare driver, you may legally be considered a commercial driver. This means you’ll need a commercial driver’s license. In selected states, if you get into an accident while driving for Uber, and don’t have a commercial license, you may be liable for prosecution. However, just because you may be a commercial driver, doesn’t mean you need a commercial insurance policy. Several auto insurance companies have created tailored ridesharing insurance policies for Uber and Lyft drivers.
Accidents also have more impact on Uber drivers as these incidents can cause loss of income. That’s why each Uber driver should get an affordable car insurance and be aware of their insurance policy options.
If you’re looking for more information on what to do during an accident while driving for Uber, check out this in-depth video from The Rideshare Guy:
Do you have any tips on how to handle accidents while driving for Uber? Let us know in the comments!