UberX is so far only available in Toronto, and has only been matching drivers with passengers for a little more than a month. However, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has weighed in on the idea of regular individuals giving rides in exchange for cash.
UberX launched in Toronto in early September, and CBC reports that the company is now recruiting drivers in Calgary, Alberta. However, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has warned those considering signing up as a driver that their personal insurance won’t be enough if they get into an accident. If they want coverage in the event of passenger injury or a collision, they’ll have to pony up for commercial insurance coverage. For its part, the company says UberX drivers are covered by “$5 million of contingent auto liability insurance” on top of any coverage the driver has.
Speaking via a blog post published in September, Uber explained that its coverage means every ride is backed by $5,000,000 (USD) of “contingent auto liability insurance covering bodily injury and property damage.”
“In the event of an accident during an UberX trip, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and the community at large can rest assured knowing that ridesharing partners are well covered by commercial auto insurance in addition to any insurance coverage maintained by the driver,” Uber said in its special blog post on Canadian safety.
What’s not clear is when drivers are covered. For example, if you agree to pick someone up and accidentally hit something on the way there, are you covered by your insurance (since the passenger wasn’t yet in the car), theirs (since you were on your way to pick up a fair) or neither (since you were engaged in commercial activity but not actively carrying a passenger for Uber)?
Insurance aside, UberX raises other questions about driver safety and passenger safety. Uber requires all UberX applications to pass a background check and have a full license, and says its background checks are more stringent than the requirements put in place by Toronto taxi and limo companies. It also screens for any infractions incurred by the driver by type and date, doesn’t allow anonymous pick ups, and asks for feedback after every ride.
Even so, the City of Toronto said it had ‘significant concerns’ when Uber launched UberX in September and said it may pose ‘a serious safety risk to the public’ due to the lack of mandated mechanical inspection and a lack of provisions (such as cameras).