Since 2014, the number of ridesharing services operating in Ontario has ballooned. Uber began offering its app that year, and it was joined by RideCo in 2016. Late last year, InstaRyde, Facedrive, ecoRIDES, and Lyft also began offering their own ridesharing solutions in Toronto.
The response has been enthusiastic. In fact, even before Lyft launched its service in Toronto, area residents had downloaded its app more than 50,000 times.
As a result, Toronto now enjoys a competitive ridesharing ecosystem for the benefit of its residents. But, as with all new technological developments, this new ecosystem raises a series of legal questions, and not all of those questions have firm answers yet.
One area in which the law has begun to catch up with technology is insurance coverage for ridesharing drivers, passengers, and third parties. But, as we will see, even this remains a complicated topic.
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Insurance Coverage for Toronto Ridesharing Drivers
When Uber first launched its UberX ridesharing service in Toronto in 2014, the legal status of ridesharing services was in doubt. What was clear, however, was that the personal auto insurance policies that Uber’s drivers maintained would not generally apply when those drivers received pay to carry passengers.
Uber claimed that its drivers were covered under a corporate policy, but it refused to make that policy publicly available.
Today, the ridesharing-insurance landscape is more settled, but it can still be confusing for ridesharing drivers and their passengers. In July 2016, Ontario approved a regulatory change that allowed insurance companies to sell policies to ridesharing developers that cover every vehicle available for hire through those developers’ respective ridesharing apps.
In general, the coverage provided under such policies applies from the moment a driver logs into a ridesharing app and is available for hire, and continues until his or her last passenger exits the vehicle or the app is shut down. At all other times, only the driver’s personal auto insurance policy applies.
However, different policy limits may apply at different phases of a ridesharing driver’s trip. For example, Uber has contracted with Intact Insurance to provide coverage to its drivers. Under the Intact policy, an Uber driver’s third-party liability coverage is limited to $1 million while the app is in use, until the driver accepts a passenger’s request. From the time the driver accepts a request until the passenger departs, that coverage is increased to $2 million.
Who to Contact in the Event of a Ridesharing Accident
Given the above developments, which insurance company a person should contact following a ridesharing accident is complicated, but here are some rules of thumb.
Who Drivers Should Contact
If a ridesharing driver is involved in an accident while using a ridesharing app, then he or she will need to make a claim for statutory accident benefits on the policy offered through the ridesharing company.
However, if the ridesharing driver is not using a ridesharing app at the time of an accident, then he or she will have to rely on his or her own personal auto insurance policy for statutory accident benefits.
As always, if the other driver was at fault in causing the accident, then the ridesharing driver must submit any fault-based claim to the other driver’s insurance via a tort claim.
Who Passengers and Third Parties Should Contact
Ridesharing passengers and third parties will look to their own personal auto insurance, if any, for statutory accident benefits. However, for fault-based claims against the ridesharing driver or another driver, the passenger or third party should make a claim against the at fault party’s insurance company.
What if drivers were using more than one app?
But what if a driver was using more than one ridesharing app when the accident occurred? Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t entirely clear yet. Existing law suggests that the first insurer to receive a completed application for statutory accident benefits is responsible to pay them, and all insurers offering coverage at the same time are responsible for a proportionate share of third-party-liability claims.
However, the law has not been updated to explicitly address ridesharing applications, so this may change in the future.
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How a Toronto Uber Accident Lawyer Can Help
To summarize, although the availability of insurance for ridesharing drivers, their passengers, and others involved in accidents with them has been clarified in recent years, that coverage remains complicated. Individuals involved in such accidents may have to submit claims on two of three different possible insurance policies: their own insurance coverage, the driver’s personal auto coverage, or the policy provided through the ridesharing app.
And even after the appropriate insurance policy has been identified, there will remain the issue of receiving payment under that policy. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to avoid paying benefits or claims under their policies. Getting the compensation you deserve may require hiring a Toronto car accident lawyer to pursue your claim in and out of court.
If you’ve been injured in a ridesharing accident in Toronto or elsewhere in Ontario, contact the experienced personal-injury lawyers of Preszler Law Firm for a free consultation. We can help you understand which insurance policies you may be able to recover under, and ensure that you receive the benefits those policies and Ontario law entitle you to.