Pickett asks PUC to address insurance gaps with ride-sharing companies
HARRISBURG - House Insurance Chairman Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) has asked the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) to address the gaps in insurance coverage for ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft and Uber, as part of the application review process.
During a June 23 public hearing of the House Insurance Committee, members learned that there is some uncertainty as to whether or not there is insurance coverage for a driver and fare-paying passenger in the event of an accident. While Yellow Cab X clearly explained who is covered and when coverage starts and stops, Lyft and Uber were unable to articulate the specifics of insurance coverage during use of the ride-sharing service.
Since that time, the PUC prevailed in a hearing to force Lyft and Uber to shut down their operations in Pittsburgh until their applications for experimental service can be reviewed and approved. Yellow Cab X currently has a permit to operate within Pennsylvania.
"I understand that Lyft and Uber are providing excess insurance coverage, and relying on the driver's coverage to provide primary coverage," Pickett wrote in a July 2 letter to the PUC. "In reality, with the driver undertaking a commercial enterprise by providing rides to fare-paying customers, the livery exclusion in a driver's personal policy will be in effect to the detriment of the driver and passengers."
The letter also states that the committee discovered that both companies' contracts with their drivers further cloud the issue of insurance coverage.
"I am hopeful that the PUC will closely examine these agreements to ensure clarity as to who is providing coverage and which entity is covered," Pickett wrote. She specifically referred to these instances where clarity in coverage is needed: when a driver engages the app; while driving to pick-up destination; while transporting passengers; and while driving home.
"Without requiring clarity now, drivers and accident victims will be required to pursue clarity through costly and lengthy litigation," she noted.
Pickett also urged the PUC to examine the issue of background checks and suggested drivers, through regulation, continue with the Pennsylvania criminal history check, along with adding an FBI criminal history clearance as part of the experimental service.