Uber & Lyft have arrived in Traverse City


So, to answer the big insurance question – it’s a flat NO – your standard California auto insurance policy does NOT cover you while you are being a local taxi driver regardless what name you slap on the app for people to contact you!!

The news reports that Lyft and Uber are now available in Traverse City has created a lot of buzz. It makes us feel like big city folk. Not sure why they started up just as all of our tourist population is leaving the area for the season, but in another 7 months, I am sure the area will love having them available here.

I would guess that over 50% of people who choose to sign up to be drivers never think to contact their auto insurance agent. Everyone just assumes that the contract they signed takes care of ‘everything’ and that they have nothing to worry about.

As a licensed insurance agent for almost 30 years now, when Uber became a ‘thing’ in big cities and I was traveling on business, I would access my app and then purposefully ask the drivers about their auto insurance. Does it cover you while you are driving me right now? The answer was never – oh I don’t know – or well I called my agent and they said…. No – it was ALWAYS – oh sure – Uber takes care of that – they do it all – no worries.
Of course, with my industry brain; my first thought was ‘Tell that to the jury or judge and see how far it gets you’.

I can tell you for a fact that Uber doesn’t ‘take care of all of that’. It’s also obvious that most people do NOT read what they sign.

For my fellow Californiaders, our personal auto insurance policies have vehicle eligibility definitions: (eligibility means if you don’t meet these, you cannot purchase a personal auto insurance policy):
Such eligibility rules state that we will insure

  • A private passenger vehicle that is not used as a public livery conveyance for passengers.
  • That is not rented to others.
  • That is used in whole or in part for personal, family or household purposes.

The personal auto policy was named that because it was for one’s personal use. To drive to and from work every day and run errands, not to load people up in it and shuttle from place to place or to deliver pizzas in 20 minutes or less. Both of these scenarios increase the chance of a serious claim that affects multiple people/passengers.

Different insurance companies are now catching up with the ride share era and are beginning to offer endorsements to provide some ‘limited’ coverage.

I would recommend that you first completely READ what you are signing if opting to become a driver, but also that you contact your insurance agent to make sure that the insurance you need both when having someone in your vehicle and in between rides, is the right coverage to protect you and your assets.
As always, if you need assistance with any of your personal or business insurance, we are simply a phone call or email away!