On-call car services Uber and Lyft are responding to the fatal New Year’s Eve accident in San Francisco by boosting their insurance coverage.
Uber announced the introduction of insurance coverage between its drivers’ fares in a blog post today. And last night, competing service Lyft made a similar announcement.
“[T]he novelty of this growing and innovative form of transportation has resulted in complex questions regarding insurance and there may be language in some policies in some states where ambiguity remains about whether personal insurance will cover the time between trips,” the Uber blog post states.
Beginning today, Uber is filling that insurance-coverage gap for drivers who are logged on to the Uber app and available to pick up a fare — but aren’t carrying a passenger. So if a driver’s personal insurance wouldn’t cover that period, Uber will take care of the driver’s liability “at the highest requirement of any state in the U.S: $50,000/individual/incident for bodily injury, $100,000 total/incident for bodily injury and $25,000/incident for property damage,” according to the blog post.
As Uber and other app-based car services become more pervasive (with help from large venture funding rounds, of course), they’re running up against more opposition from public officials, regulators, and taxi companies. And mishaps involving services like Uber and Lyft are becoming more visible.
Such conditions are pushing the companies to act on at least two fronts — making drivers feel comfortable with the services and appearing legitimate, responsive, and safe to the public at large.
Recent moves include lowering prices, increasing insurance coverage, and banding together to work with, not against, insurance companies and regulators, hence the formation of the Peer-to-Peer Rideshare Insurance Coalition.
Lyft announced that initiative last month. Today, an Uber spokesperson confirmed to VentureBeat that it’s is involved in the group now, too.
Now Lyft and Uber are responding to just the sort of incident that happened on New Year’s Eve, in which 6-year-old Sophia Liu died while crossing the street with her brother and mother in San Francisco. That accident happened while the Uber partner was not driving a passenger.
Uber is providing coverage between rides for passengers across all states in the U.S. while Lyft is rolling it out “state-by-state in the days to come,” according to a statement Lyft sent in an email to VentureBeat last night.