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Ride-sharing services and auto accident liability: what's the deal?

Readers may have heard that popular ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft are, as of today, officially permitted to operate in the city of Portland as part of a four-month long pilot program. In implementing the program, city officials will be gathering information aimed at determined whether to make the program permanent.

For those who choose to take part in the program as drivers, it is important that they understand where they stand in terms of potential liability when an accident occurs. Portland's pilot program requires drivers offering ride-sharing services to secure liability insurance that meets or exceeds current legal requirements.

Ride-sharing companies carry their own insurance policies, but it important to realize that these policies don't go into effect until the driver is actually on the way to pick up a passenger. This means that, for the period of time when a motorist is driving before having received a ride request, he or she is not covered under the ride-sharing company's insurance policy. That can be a problem, because many insurance companies will not cover drivers who provide ride-sharing services under their personal policies.

Hybrid insurance policies which do fully cover drivers for ride-sharing accidents are becoming more and more available, but many drivers don't fully understand what they are covered for and what liabilities they may have in an accident.

Those who are involved in a ride-sharing accident do well to make sure they are fully covered in the event of an accident, and those who are harmed in a ride-sharing accident should consult with an experienced attorney to make sure they receive the coverage they are entitled to under their policy.

Source: Entrepreneur.com, "What UberX and Lyft Drivers Can Do to Minimize Their Personal Liability," Nellie Akalp, April 21, 2015.

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