But first I want to link to a few articles. One is from the The International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) and lists some actions being taken against the rogue apps in other parts of the county. The other is an article in the Examiner by an attorney Christopher B. Dolon that was passed onto me by omnivorous reader and ace cab driver David Schneider.
Before getting to their one millions dollar insurance policies let’s look at what kind of insurance policies Lyft and Sidecar advise their drivers to carry.
“Sidecar requires community drivers to carry liability insurance coverage as mandated for all drivers by the state in which they drive. Before you start ridesharing with us, we will check to make sure you have valid coverage as required by your state, but it’s up to you to get that insurance for yourself. No special insurance coverage is usually needed for carpool/rideshare use of your vehicle, but you should check your car insurance coverage to ensure that ridesharing or carpooling is not excluded. Sidecar does have a Guarantee Program that could cover you if your insurance is denied or exhausted.”
However, what Sidecar does, in the words of Kara Cross Chief Council for the Personal Insurance Federation of California, (5)
“… is not ridesharing, but instead using a private passenger vehicle for a livery service. This is clearly not covered under a standard (personal liability) policy; if an accident occurs, coverage would not exist.”
In other words, nobody who rides in, or drives, a Lyft or a Sidecar vehicle is covered by personal liability insurance. Since few, if any, of these drivers carry commercial insurance, drivers and customers usually are not be insured all.
But what about those million dollar guarantees? Since the CPUC is hiding the policies from public view all we can do is speculate.
First a question: If Lyft and Sidecar really gave complete coverage to their drivers, why wouldn’t they show their policies to the public?
Both companies make conflicting claims about their policies. In it’s terms, Lyft describes its policy thus:
“So long as Drivers are in compliance with this Agreement (including but not limited to the Driver Representations and Warranties provided below), Lyft procures insurance that provides Drivers with excess automobile liability insurance up to $1,000,000 per occurrence. The policy offers excess liability protection over a Driver's existing insurance while such Driver is transporting Rider(s) on a trip arranged through the Lyft Platform. The policy coverage is limited to liability only and does not provide coverage for collision, comprehensive or wear and tear damage to a Driver's vehicle.”
At the CPUC hearings on ridesharing, on the other hand, Lyft attorney Kristen Svercheck stated that the policy gave complete coverage which would make their insurance a fleet policy, not an umbrella.
Sidecar engages in similar double-talk.
$1 Million Insurance
Sidecar provides drivers with a $1 million per incident insurance policy. Every ride is covered from beginning to end.
What does “beginning to end” mean?
How does the Excess Insurance Policy work?
“Drivers in California now have $1,000,000 of excess liability coverage per accident with no deductible. The policy covers all claims relating to bodily injury or property damage that the driver is legally responsible for and that is not covered by the driver’s primary insurance policy. Drivers are covered from the time they accept a ride and are en route to pick up a passenger until the passenger is dropped off at his/her “intended and scheduled” destination.”
It’s not clear whether this is an umbrella or not.
What is the difference? An umbrella policy covers over and above the amount of the driver’s own insurance. In most cases, this would mean that the first $30,000 would be covered by the driver’s policy, and anything over that would be covered by the excess policy.
Since Lyft and Sidecar drivers are not actually covered by the personal liability policies that the NOETS claim is adequate; the drivers are at best carrying a $30,000 deductible. At worst, they have no insurance at all.
I longer doubt the existence of the million-dollar polices. The CPUC says that they have seen the polices, but they will not say what the coverage is.
“As with any personal auto insurance policy, additional insurance terms, limitations, and exclusions apply.”
Without, of course, letting us know what those exclusions are or where we can find out about them.
Sidecar goes Lyft one better:
“These payments are subject to certain conditions, limitations and exclusions, the details of which can be found in our Program Terms, available from Sidecar upon request.”
Is it necessary to point out that there is no link to the Program Terms? I wrote to Sidecar on Facebook yesterday and asked them,
“Can you send me a list of the exclusions and limitations on your million dollar insurance policy? If you can’t send them yourself, where can I write to get a list of the limitations and exclusions to your million dollar policy?” (6)
Surprisingly, although they immediately erased my questions from their Facebook thread, they did write back to me, eliciting the following exchange:
“Thank you for contacting Sidecar Support. I also see that you have previously inquired about this topic.
Our commercial auto policy is completely unique and was custom created for our community to protect our community. (See www.side.cr/safety for details.) The policy covers damage up to a million dollars per accident (1) where the damage is greater than the limits of the driver's personal policy or (2) where the driver's personal insurance denies coverage for the driver's participation in Sidecar.
This is what we share with both our drivers and the Sidecar ride-sharing community.
Have a nice day.”
Travis Support Specialist Sidecar (Side.cr) "My Ride is Your Ride" JUN 14, 2013 | 02:45PM PDT
To SideCar JUN 15, 2013
“In other words, your drivers and the Sidecar ridesharing community don't get to share the limitations, exclusions and conditions of your policy either.”
This is typical of the kind of cat and mouse con games these people play. They claim to carry insurance and then decline to show the coverage even to their own drivers.
Let me ask one more time:
Would people that truly carried the insurance coverage that John Zimmer and Sunil Paul claim they have refuse to show their polices to the public?