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  • Lacking Insurance Uber, Other Rideshare Drivers Left High And Dry
    Posted On: May 22, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, May 23, 2016

    Justin LaPlante is a former cab driver and the administrator of Ride Safe Madison, a non-profit Rideshare & Taxi safety resource in Southern Wisconsin.  For the last two years LaPlante has been investigating rideshare companies’ operations.  After discovering that drivers were able to get on both Uber and Lyft with fake documentation, they tried it themselves, getting a driver approved by Uber with unconvincingly fake insurance and vehicle registration documents:

    [Justin LaPlante]: “Not only did our driver successfully get onto the app, but as we’ve been looking at vehicles that operate for Uber and Lyft, we noticed that there are already and have been, for a long time, drivers that are using vehicles that are out of registration, that have the wrong plate number on the wrong vehicle.  It’s too easy.  In a desperate economic market, when something easy comes up, it’s like flies to honey.”

    LaPlante is far more concerned about the insurance situation for Rideshare drivers, many of who are voiding their policies by not informing the insurance company of their Rideshare activities:

    [Justin LaPlante]: “They all specifically state that if you do not report commercial activity with the vehicle, you’re invalidating the policy.  The estimation from different media sources, and our own, is that no less than 97 percent of the rideshare drivers out there do not have the proper insurance to cover a customer in the vehicle or if they themselves get into a wreck while driving for a rideshare.  If you yourself haven’t contacted your own insurance company, which Uber does not advise you to do...the entire cost falls on the driver and the customer, and it’s left up to the customer to try to sue Uber or the driver to get money for injuries…deaths.”

    Commercial liability insurance can cost drivers several thousand dollars a year, and treated as “independent contractors”, they are on the hook for other costs such as gas and vehicle service.  LaPlante says most in Madison make below the minimum wage.  When local municipalities try to level the playing field between rideshares and traditional taxi companies, rideshares often just pack up and leave.  Uber recently abandoned Austin, Texas after a proposal that would require Uber and their drivers to report their relationship to insurance companies.

    [Justin LaPlante]: “…what we, who are in the anti-rideshare community, are starting to call ‘The Magic Bullet’…’cause if any municipality or city or state does this, all the sudden Uber is like, ‘No, we can’t remain here.  Your laws are just too stringent.’  By expecting there to be proper insurance for their customers, Uber says that that is an oppressive law, and they leave.  But all those drivers are left with nothing.”

    Since announcing the results of the insurance investigation Thursday, LaPlante has gotten responses from Uber drivers all over the world:

    [Justin LaPlante]: “They all have had the same cost issues that drivers have had here in the states.  Some of them have been in uninsured wrecks.  There is one gentleman in China facing about ten thousand dollars because his own insurance company found out and dropped him…and Uber has just thrown him to the wayside.”

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