If you live, work or play in Baltimore, the chances are good that you have seen a Lyft or Uber driver transporting passengers. Lyft and Uber drivers, unlike traditional taxi or limousine drivers, are “rideshare drivers,” and until very recently that created serious problems in regards to auto insurance. When a rideshare driver was transporting a passenger, he or she was covered by the parent company’s insurance. When the driver was “off the clock,” then he or she was covered by a personal insurance policy.
However, when Uber and Lyft drivers were on the clock and on their way to pick up a passenger, they were not covered by any insurance. Because they are considered independent contractors, their parent companies did not have to insure them until passengers were physically in the car – which means that if you were involved in an auto accident in Baltimore with an Uber driver, the parent company could avoid liability altogether.
The problem of insurance
Because Maryland law requires drivers to carry at least $30,000 in uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, at least you were protected in some way if you were in a car accident with a Baltimore Uber driver. But if your costs were greater than $30,000, or if there was a dispute between the parent company, the driver’s insurance company and the driver about whether or not coverage should have been available at that time, then you could have faced a long uphill battle in the courts to obtain the compensation you needed to get well.
Today, insurance companies are creating specific policies for rideshare drivers. So far, only Geico has offered a policy to rideshare drivers in Maryland, which will cover a driver during those “gap” periods. However, Geico only offers this policy in three other states: Virginia, Georgia and Texas. What happens if you take an Uber or a Lyft from Baltimore into Washington D.C.? If you have an accident with a rideshare driver on the Delaware side of Route 54, will you need to rely on your own UM coverage, or will the Geico policy hold up? The information is not readily available on Geico’s website.
Whether or not you use rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft, it is always a smart idea to have extra UM insurance on your vehicle, just in case you end up in an auto accident in Baltimore or anywhere in Maryland. The extra precautions could mean the difference between a full recovery from your injuries and a lifetime of pain and suffering.
Plaxen & Adler, P.A. is a premier personal injury law firm serving clients throughout Maryland. If you were injured in an auto accident in Baltimore, we want to help. Please contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation with an experienced Baltimore auto accident attorney or feel free to call if you have questions about your insurance.