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Is It Time to Control Uber in Michigan?

Michigan residents have been getting used to the idea of hailing a ride right from their smartphone. But now legislators believe it may be time to controls companies like Uber and Lyft with stricter regulations.

Senators Dale Zorn (R-Ida) and Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) think it is time to get Uber under control. They are worried that without regulations, Uber drivers could be putting their customers at risk.

Controlling Uber

They have proposed SB 0184 and SB 0188, which would hold transportation network companies to the same safety and insurance standards as limousines. Drivers would have to get chauffeur’s licenses and carry a minimum of $1 million property liability insurance. Transportation companies would also have to perform background checks on their drivers and safety inspections of their vehicles.

In 2014, Uber representatives asked for similar legislation. But this year, Mike White, general manager of Uber in Michigan, says the company already does many of the safety checks the bills would require. By shifting the requirements to drivers, the bills could cause problems for the company:

“All of these things are barriers for a part-time driver like an Uber X driver to be able to quickly and easily get onto the platform, and they’re not actually addressing a safety question.”

The problem, according to Uber, is that the bills would try to sandwich the company into an outdated model.

Insurance Problems

Requiring drivers to obtain property liability insurance on top of their own no fault policies could help solve a sticky insurance situation. Local State Farm agent Marty O’Neill explains:

The evolution of Uber creates a growing issue regarding auto insurance. Most Uber drivers are relying on the private passenger insurance coverage that they have always carried. However, those policies are not designed for commercial endeavors. Anyone using their car for commercial purposes has to be extremely cautious that they are carrying the correct coverage. Otherwise, they are opening themselves to risks that could very likely to be declined by their private passenger insurance carrier.”

The question is who pays if an Uber driver gets into an accident. While most Uber passengers’ injuries will be covered by their own no fault insurance, lawyers and legislators are anticipating long court battles over whether Uber’s policies, the driver’s policies, or the driver him or herself will be responsible for damage done to cars, passengers’ personal items, and even roadways.

Uber and Lyft drivers would be wise to contact their insurance providers and make sure they are covered. Doing nothing could put them on the hook for thousands of dollars of damage later on.

David Christensen is a no-fault auto lawyer with Christensen Law in Soutfield, Michigan. He has been representing the victims of auto accidents for over 30 years and is always on top of changes in the law. If you or someone you know was injured in an auto accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.