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Uber expands insurance coverage

Monday - 5/12/2014, 5:38pm  ET

UBER.jpg
The Uber ride-sharing service is convenient, but what if there's an accident? (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- As ride sharing grows in popularity in the D.C. area, questions have been raised about the insurance held by drivers.

UberX is a service that lets drivers with their own vehicles and insurance sign up online to become a part of Uber's network of drivers. Customers then call, track and pay for their ride using Uber's smartphone app.

But what happens if an Uber car is involved in an accident?

Some personal policies can seek to bow out of coverage if a car is being used for profit during an incident.

In that instance, Uber says they have coverage that will kick in.

"We're one of the first ride-sharing companies to provide over a million dollars of coverage," says Zuhairah Washington, general manager of Uber D.C.

She says a $1 million commercial liability policy covers UberX cars from the time a driver accepts a call to the time they drop off their passengers.

But Uber's insurance is only a backup to the driver's personal policy.

"Any instance where the personal insurance for that vehicle is not valid for any reason, we have a commercial insurance policy that kicks in," Washington says.

After the death of a young girl in San Francisco whose lawyers say was hit by an Uber driver in between passengers, a policy was also created for the times a driver is in between calls.

"To eliminate any ambiguity about coverage during that period, we recently became the first ride sharing service to roll additional coverage up to $100,000 per incident," Washington said.

The only condition is that the driver must have the Uber app open to be covered.

Seth Price of Price Benowitz Law Firm, in D.C., which specializes in accidents, calls the umbrella policy great because, he says, "taxis are notoriously low in the insurance coverage that they have."

Price says it is important to remember that Uber drivers are on duty all the time.

"It would be imperative that there is coverage, and not just the basic coverage the driver has, but the umbrella coverage that Uber is offering during times where a driver is not doing the task of having a passenger in the car, but throughout their day."

Right now, there are no plans to extend the $1 million umbrella to the time in between calls.

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