Car sharing services have become a popular way for locals and visitors alike to get around Atlanta. In fact, services like Uber Atlanta describe themselves as “Atlanta’s best way to request a safe, reliable and affordable ride within minutes.” While these car sharing services can be convenient for people who need transportation and can bring in much needed income for drivers, there are also significant risks to both passengers and those who drive the vehicles.
The problem that arises is: who is responsible in the event that a motor vehicle accident occurs. Passengers in car accidents can typically take legal action with the help of Atlanta car accident lawyers if they are hurt while riding in a friend’s car, provided they can prove that the friend is negligent or broke the rules of the road. Insurance pays the bills for losses and those who are harmed in a collision can be fully compensated for damages. However, insurance companies have demonstrated resistance to providing coverage in cases where drivers are offering their car as a de facto taxi service through ride sharing programs. This can make it more complicated for collision victims to pursue a claim for compensation.
Insurance Companies Take Tough Stance Against Liability for Atlanta Collisions Caused by Car-Sharers
The SF Gate recently reported on leaked documents showing one major insurance company’s position on car sharing services. The documents come from Geico, who has taken a strong stance against providing coverage for people who use their cars for commercial purposes. Geico is not the only insurance company to limit coverage under these circumstances, but the leaked documents make clear that auto insurers are taking a “hard line.”
The internal sales-training document urges customer service members to “group reject” policies of customers who are involved in ride-sharing. Customer service professionals are told to inform customers that they either must prove they are no longer driving for Uber or Lyft or they must seek insurance coverage elsewhere. Ride-service drivers are also referred to a fraud unit when they need to make claims.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America has spoken out on the issue of coverage for ride sharing drivers, indicating that “Private passenger auto policy isn’t intended to cover livery services,” because providing livery services is a “material change in the nature of the risk being insured.” Since it is a material change, many states will allow auto insurers to cancel coverage if it turns out that their insured driver is offering rides.
State Farm also said that livery use is not insured and that “customers should not depend on their personal auto insurance to protect them while driving for a ride-sharing service.” However, there are some insurance companies working to create hybrid policies that would allow motorists to buy additional coverage if they want to provide ride-sharing.
Unless a motorist has a policy that covers commercial transportation, those who get into a car with that driver are taking a risk that they won’t be fully compensated if a crash happens. If an accident has already occurred, it will become more complicated for victims to sue and they need to ensure they have a top-notch lawyer on their side.
The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury in a motor vehicle crash. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.