Uber has recently taken Toronto by storm, causing the taxi industry and some city councilors a great deal of concern. Councilor Jim Karygiannis recently warned that UberX passengers could face fines up to $20,000, though no passenger has ever been fined and both the city and its mayor admit that the focus of their efforts is on Uber, not passengers.
What should concern passengers more than meritless fear mongering from taxi-industry-fundedcouncilors is the soundness of Uber’s insurance policy and what that means for passengers if they are in an Uber car accident. A recent court case between the City of Toronto and Uber saw, among other things, the disclosure of details regarding Uber’s $5 million country-wide contingent auto liability insurance policy hotly debated. Uber’s sealing order request was eventually denied, but it seems that so far all passengers have is Uber’s word that this policy will cover them in an accident.
In what increasingly appears to be a trust-based system, Uber drivers are responsible for providing their own, commercial insurance. UberX, Uber’s most popular service, is comprised of everyday people and their cars responding to your request for a ride. Uber requires them to be adequately insured, but the temptation is surely there to forgo costly commercial insurance if they’re just taking a few fares to supplement your income.
100% of UberX drivers may be appropriately covered and Uber Canada’s $5 million policy may well adequately fill any insurance gaps, but what if both fail? What if you find out that there is no insurance after you are injured in a car accident while in an UberX car? In the case of both Uber Canada and the driver’s insurance failing, you may have up to five options for compensation if you suffer an injury.
- If you have your own car insurance, they would provide you compensation under Ontario’s no-fault auto insurance system;
- Depending on the circumstances of the crash and who is found fully or at least partially liable, the insurer of another car involved in the crash may provide compensation if you do not have insurance;
- You may be able to sue the driver of the car who caused the accident;
- You may be able to sue a negligent on- or off-site party that was wholly or partially responsible for the accident. Examples may include a construction company performing road work or a bar that has over-served someone alcohol;
- If no car insurance is otherwise available, you may receive compensation under Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund, which is a “last resort” government fund;
As you can see, even in the worst case scenario there are still options available to victims, though they may not be optimal. One thing we can guarantee is that the grey area around Uber’s insurance and the City of Toronto’s laws will have to clear up eventually.