Posted by Renaldo Nel.
Uber is considering leaving the state of New Jersey if a proposed bill passes. This proposed bill’s main objective is to implement tough regulations regarding commercial insurance. There is currently an ongoing debate whether there is a gap in the insurance coverage of Uber drivers. Insurance industry experts and New Jersey law makers argue that Uber’s operations are not covered sufficiently. Currently Uber’s commercial coverage, which it buys for its drivers, kicks-in the moment the driver accepts a ride request. Lawmakers want to change this and require that the insurance is in place from the point which the driver logs onto the Uber Application. They argue that there is commercial benefit whilst the driver is waiting for someone to request a ride.
Furthermore, lawmakers assert that the personal insurance cover of the driver often does not cover any incident that occurs if the driver is logged-on to the application. They argue that it is vital that the driver is insured between the time that he logs-on and the time he or she gets a ride request. Uber disagrees.
Uber states that more often than not, personal insurance will pay for any incident that occurs between the time the driver logs-on and waits for a ride. Uber furthermore states that they have insurance in place in the event that the personal coverage of the driver does not pay. If this is true, one would not know at this stage. Uber does however claim that “rides on the platform, beginning to end, from when the driver turns on the app to when they drop a person off is insured. Any claim to the contrary is incorrect” (Mohrer). Christine O’Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, states that “It is clear under New Jersey law that people who engage as an UberX driver are not covered by their private passenger auto policy. That is a very clear conclusion.”
I believe the problem here is to find out what the actual truth is. We need to determine whether these drivers are sufficiently covered or not. If not, then extra commercial insurance would most definitely be needed. If Uber claims that they provide insurance for the time frame in controversy, then they should provide proof of this insurance.
I understand that law makers are only trying to protect the common citizen, however, I also understand Uber’s argument that the proposed law is burdensome. Uber claims that the level of coverage proposed is higher than that of what is expected from taxi operators. Furthermore, Uber states that four states, including Washington D.C., have passed transport network regulation, and that these regulations are not nearly as burdensome as those proposed in New Jersey.
Uber is many people’s livelihood, and I understand their frustration as it can easily be seen as a vendetta against Uber drivers. New Jersey lawmakers should take into consideration what other states have done and see how they can accommodate both parties.
Renaldo is an economics major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.