Florida Legislature could impose Insurance Requirements on Uber and Lyft

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Each Uber or Lyft driver in Florida would have to carry over $1 million in insurance coverage under legislation just passed by the state senate. Senate Bill (SB) 1298 would require drivers to take out auto insurance policies that provide $1 million in death and bodily injury coverage and $50,000 in property damage coverage whenever they carried passengers.

The bill passed by a vote of 28 to 12, indicating that a majority of the state’s senators support it, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. A similar measure called House Bill (HB) 817 is scheduled for a third reading in the lower house of the state legislature.

Interestingly enough, both bills require drivers to carry insurance that provides coverage when the app is turned on, but the drive is not carrying a passenger. SB 1298 requires $125,000 in death and bodily injury coverage per person and $250,000 in such coverage per accident in such a situation. HB 817 mandates $50,000 in death and bodily injury coverage per person and $100,000 per accident in such coverage. Both bills require $25,000 in property damage coverage when the app is off.

the old Florida State Capitol building in the foreground with the new capitol rising behind

the old Florida State Capitol building in the foreground with the new capitol rising behind

HB 817 also mandates background checks and permitting processes for ride-sharing drivers. SB 1298 only specifies insurance requirements, but it mandates additional insurance for drivers that carry passengers when not using the app.

National Effort to Require Uber Insurance could be Coming

These laws sound as if they were written by an insurance company or its lawyers in an attempt to address the networked transportation industry. Although I am not aware of any insurance companies that offer such coverage, my guess is that a company plans to start offering it soon. News stories did not say if any insurance lobbyists are involved in the legislation, but I imagine that they are.

The Democrat’s story did not say who would pay for the insurance, the networked transportation company or the driver. That probably opens the way for a nasty battle between drivers and Uber over insurance, which unions will love.

Not surprisingly, Uber opposes this sensible measure. Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh told The Democrat that her company is opposed to HB 817 because it mandates background checks.

I also suspect that the Florida effort might be a test case for a nationwide effort to mandate insurance for networked transportation organizations, something that is definitely needed if this industry is to survive and the streets are to be safe.

It’ll be interesting to see if Uber is capable of living within the rules set by Big Insurance. My prediction is it will not be.