Driving for Uber or Lyft can be a great way to earn money. You can make your own hours, working as often as you want while avoiding the confines of an office. The last thing you want to deal with is an accident. But if you drive enough miles, this can be a more than likely misfortune.
So what do you do if you get into an accident while you’re driving? Baltimore Uber and Lyft car accident attorney Randolph Rice explains.
Steps Uber Drivers Should Take After a Car Crash in Maryland
Just as if you were a driver in a personal car, you should follow similar steps if you are driving an Uber that gets into an accident.
- Call 911 to report the accident and seek medical attention for anyone who has suffered personal injury in Maryland.
- Document the accident and damage. If possible, take photos of the crash scene and damage to the cars. Collect the following from the other driver: name, contact information and insurance information. Also, look for witnesses and collect their information for follow-up. Use your phone as much as possible to record any information about the accident and the other driver. Consider using a voice memo feature to dictate details so you don’t forget anything.
- Get a copy of the police report. Even if your state doesn’t require police to be called, make sure you take this step to have more documentation of the accident.
- Call the insurance company. Which one you call depends on your driving period.
- Contact Uber.
- Consider contacting a Baltimore car accident lawyer.
Will My Uber or Lyft Driver Account Be Deactivated After an Accident?
Once your accident is reported, Uber will deactivate you as a driver to investigate whether you were at fault. They also will investigate any damage to your car to determine if you can no longer drive it for Uber. The investigation can take a few weeks, during which you cannot pick up passengers. If the car is damaged, you cannot drive it until it’s repaired and may even have to go through another Uber vehicle inspection.
Is Uber Liable for Accidents?
Uber has an accident policy, and any coverage Uber provides is secondary to your personal auto insurance, as well as the insurance of the other driver involved in the crash. If you are driving an Uber and get into an accident that causes personal injury to you or the passenger, the Uber accident policy covers you up to $1 million in liability for any injuries or damage. But Uber coverage only kicks in if you or the driver of the second car is at fault and has insufficient bodily injury coverage on their own auto insurance policy. So the first thing to consider is your insurance (if you caused the accident) and the other driver (if he caused the accident). The $1 million Uber insurance coverage also applies when you drive for Uber and are in an accident with an uninsured driver or if you are involved in a hit and run accident as an Uber driver.
Is Lyft Liable for Accidents?
The same process and insurance considerations apply to Lyft, another popular rideshare service. If you as the Lyft driver are at fault, your insurance coverage will apply to any injuries. However, if your insurance doesn’t include provisions to cover passenger injuries, that’s when Lyft coverage comes in. Their accident policy is the same as Uber’s: third-party liability coverage that pays up to $1 million for personal injuries and property damage per accident. This coverage, again, picks up where the driver’s leaves off, and doesn’t come into play if another driver is to blame and that insurance takes care of any injuries or damage
Uber or Lyft Insurance Coverage Details
Uber and Lyft require their drivers to have auto insurance but do not verify their respective policies. Uber and Lyft also both offer supplemental insurance coverage, but only while the app is on. That means if you’re driving for personal purposes with the app off, you cannot seek additional coverage. The other situations are broken down into three periods.
Period 1: Once the ride-sharing driver turns on the app, a low level of insurance becomes active, but does not include collision.
Period 2: When a trip is accepted and you are en route to the passenger, a higher level of coverage applies.
Period 3: This higher level of coverage continues from passenger pickup to drop-off and includes collision and liability.
Period two and three are when Uber provides $1 million in liability coverage and they also provide collision coverage, but period one (app off) there is no collision coverage and a low level of liability. To cover that gap, rideshare insurance can be instrumental The Uber or Lyft coverage, however, requires drivers to pay $1000-$2,500 deductibles.
Which Insurance Company Do I Contact for an Accident as a Rideshare Driver?
The insurance company you contact depends on the “period” you were in when the accident occurred: online mode, waiting for a ride request or not in online mode.
If you were in online mode and en route to pick up a passenger after accepting a request (Period 2), or had a passenger in the car (Period 3), call Uber first. This will likely mean Uber will deactivate you as a driver. Contact Uber through their hotline (800-353-8237) or Lyft (855-865-9553).
If you were online in the app waiting for a ride request (period 1), contact your personal insurance company then Uber. Your coverage from Uber depends on your personal insurance coverage.
If you were not in online mode and the app is off, contact your personal insurance company as if you are driving normally. Please note that in California or Washington, there are laws protecting rideshare drivers even if no passengers are in the car, so always check with your DMV to see what the law is for your state.
Always be honest about if you were actually in online mode. The app tracks your GPS coordinates, the time of day and any metadata coming from the app. If you falsely claim you were in online mode and seek coverage from Uber or Lyft, you are committing fraud and could see jail time.
Does My Insurance Company Need to Know I’m Driving for Uber / Lyft?
It is important to be transparent with your insurance company so that you have the coverage that you need. Ride-share drivers may be independent contractors, but many states consider them to be commercial drivers. As a commercial driver, a special license and insurance policy are required. If you are in an accident and do not have this license, you could be prosecuted, even if you have a commercial auto insurance policy.
Is Rideshare Insurance Required for Drivers?
Uber and Lyft do not require rideshare insurance for their drivers. All drivers must have a personal auto insurance policy, but it’s up to the driver to handle what that policy entails. Pick up personal rideshare insurance or GAP insurance to cover any gaps in your insurance policy. Uber won’t cover a lot of accidents, and you don’t need the stress of covering Uber’s $1000 deductible especially if you have been deactivated and not earning pay.
Keep in mind that your personal auto insurance policy may not cover you if you drive for UberX, which could be considered commercial driving.
Will My Insurance Go Up If I Drive for a Rideshare Service?
Driving for a ride-share service could mean a higher insurance premium due to the added coverage you need. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover you for rideshare driving. If not, you can purchase supplemental coverage, such as GAP coverage, or find insurance that has what you need. Shop around for the best deal that fits your situation, particularly if you are only driving part-time. As ride-sharing services become more popular, insurance companies are creating flexible plans.
Can Uber / Lyft Drivers Be Sued by the Passenger?
While Uber or Lyft provides the rideshare service, it’s the driver/independent contractor who is held liable for the accident. Because you are not an Uber employee, Uber can deny liability. If the passenger seeks to file a lawsuit, it would target you as the at-fault driver, not Uber or Lyft. If you cannot cover the passenger’s medical bills, the Uber or Lyft accident policy will then come into play. You can consider hiring a lawyer to protect you and preserve all evidence so there are no discrepancies in the case.