In May of 2017, Uber launched a pilot insurance program for its drivers in several states across the country. The optional program allows drivers to purchase injury insurance through Uber’s insurance partners at a low rate that covers their medical expenses and lost wages if they suffer injuries on the job. As part of the initiative, Uber has raised rates in the states where the program is available to off set the premiums for drivers.
What does Uber’s personal injury insurance plan for drivers entail?
Uber recently partnered with two insurers, One Beacon and Aon, to offer its drivers on-the-job injury protection. The policy will cover:
- Up to $1 million for the driver’s medical expenses (with no deductible or copay);
- Up to half of the driver’s average weekly earnings; and
- Up to $150,000 in survivor benefits if the driver dies from injuries suffered on the job.
Drivers do not have to have a customer in the car to receive coverage. The policy covers them whenever they are logged into the app, including when they are en route to pick up a customer or simply available and awaiting a customer request.
The pilot program is currently only available in eight states: Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia. If the program fares well, Uber might decide to offer it in other states.
How much will Uber drivers have to pay for injury insurance?
The cost of the injury insurance program is approximately 3.75 cents per mile. But because Uber simultaneously raised customers’ rates $0.05 per mile in the eight states offering the new insurance plan, drivers who opt in will not see a cut in their compensation. On the contrary, they will see a $0.0125/mile increase in pay. (Drivers who choose not to purchase the injury protection will get to pocket the entire $0.05/mile rate increase.)
Why the new injury insurance? I thought Uber drivers already had coverage.
Uber requires that all its drivers carry auto insurance. But the company only requires that drivers carry liability insurance (which pays for damage the Uber driver causes to others), not personal injury insurance (which pays for the Uber driver’s losses).
Most drivers add extra liability insurance on their personal auto insurance policy or purchase a separate commercial liability policy to satisfy Uber’s requirements. Uber also provides supplemental liability coverage for all its drivers that pays for up to $1 million in damages when the driver is logged into the app. But again, this coverage only pays for others’ damages, not the Uber driver’s.
Unlike employees in other sectors who receive workers’ compensation benefits when they sustain an injury at work, Uber drivers have never enjoyed that protection because the company labels them as independent contractors, not employees. The subject has caused quite a rift between the company and its drivers. In fact, Uber has been under fire on numerous occasions for giving its drivers unfair wages and insufficient protection.
So, in what appears to be an attempt to pacify and better accommodate it drivers, Uber is now offering this injury protection plan, in place of typical workers’ compensation insurance.
Has the response to the new Uber insurance program been favorable?
Uber’s head of safety and insurance Gus Fuldner explained, “We believe drivers should have a low-cost option for protecting themselves and their families from rare and unpredictable accidents that prevent them from working.”
Because the new program is still only in the pilot stage, it is too early to determine whether drivers will deem it a valuable work benefit. And drivers still have the option to simply pocket the increase in income, rather than opting into the program, so it is still unclear as to how many drivers will capitalize on this new injury coverage.
The program is already receiving some flack, though. Some labor groups are not satisfied with the new policy, claiming that it is merely Uber’s way of continuing to divert the cost of protecting its workforce. In a circulating email, National Employment Law Project Director Rebecca Smith criticized the insurance program, which she says is Uber’s “attempt to shore up its faltering image.”
Smith stated: “Instead of paying workers’ compensation premiums to cover all of its workers, as responsible businesses do, Uber will charge drivers for the medical care and time-loss benefits that the rest of us get by virtue of working at a job… If Uber valued its workers, it would simply pay its workers’ compensation premiums and cover all of them.”
Unfortunately, regardless of whether Uber offers insurance, accidents will continue to happen. If ever you are involved in an Uber accident – as a passenger or a driver – speak to an injury attorney to discuss your insurance options and ensure you receive proper compensation for your losses. For an Uber injury attorney in Ohio, call Levy Law Offices at 513-651-CASH and request a free consultation.