Late in Michigan’s legislative session, transportation network companies Uber and Lyft have proposed a bill through Representative Tim Kelly of Saginaw, to provide them statewide regulation and close potential gaps in insurance coverage for their drivers and clients. But objections to the bill will postpone any solution until next year.
Uber and Lyft each operate a mobile app that allows customers to request a ride from partner drivers and pay for the ride using their credit card. But there was some question what would happen if Uber and Lyft drivers got into accidents while on the clock. That’s because their partner drivers aren’t required to carry the same kind of insurance as taxi drivers.
This bill would change those requirements and clarify when the companies’ corporate insurance applies to an accident, and when the drivers’ coverage takes over. It would also make into law the screening and inspection policies Uber and Lyft already use to hire drivers.
Representative Kelly introduced this bill to hold transportation network companies (TNCs) to many of the same standards as taxi companies. It would also smooth out the patchwork of local ordinances and agreements the companies have made with the cities where they operate. Mike White, Uber General Manager for Michigan, said:
“We want to ensure safety, so we want strong safety standards. We want to ensure that there is a framework for competition so people know what a TNC is and TNCs can compete. And that improves the opportunity for improved service and drives down prices and improves quality. We like a framework that allows for those things.”
But opponents, especially from taxi and limousine companies, say the companies should simply be required to comply with the taxi law already in place. They say that some people may be confused about whose insurance applies when drivers are logged in to the service, but not actually providing someone a ride. There is also concern that the state law would override the local work that had already been done.
Now because of the opposition, any change to how Uber and Lyft do business in Michigan will have to wait until 2015. In the meantime the questions continue and drivers are in the lurch over whether they will be covered for accidents while they are on the clock.
David Christensen is a no-fault auto accident lawyer at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team are on the cutting edge of the law getting recoveries for drivers hurt in car crashes in Michigan. If you or someone you know has been injured in a taxi or ride-share, contact Christensen Law for a free consultation.
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