Ride sharing companies such as Uber are still on the way to BC even with the expected ouster of the BC Liberals from government. In interviews with the press, BC NDP and Green leaders John Horgan and Andrew Weaver hinted that the parties plan to develop legislation to make sure “those who are anxious for ride-sharing get what they are looking for.” Potential Uber drivers are following this closely.
But due to how the Uber uses its drivers’ personal vehicles to do business, existing insurance policies here in BC likely won’t be sufficient to cover the ride-sharing company’s unique needs. Under the BC Liberal government, there had been talks to create additional insurance that would “kick in” when an Uber app is activated by a driver, and deactivate when a driver turns off the app.
However, that plan could be put on hold, now that a deal has made between the BC NDP and Greens to form a minority government to replace the Liberals. Under BC’s current regulations, even if Uber were allowed here, drivers would need to obtain a Commercial Driver’s licence in addition to obtaining a taxi or limousine insurance rate class. For those two classes, the minimum third-party insurance liability is $300,000. Additionally, prospective Uber drivers will have to obtain a licence approved by BC’s Passenger Transportation Board, a National Safety Code certificate, and be subject to semi-annual commercial vehicle inspections.
What insurance does Uber use in the rest of Canada?
In Canada, Uber currently services several cities in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The model being used is the previously mentioned additional insurance that would “kick in” when a driver activates their ride-hailing app. Uber drivers in both Alberta and Ontario have policies with Intact Insurance that came into effect last summer. The additional insurance provides $2 million in third party liability coverage per incident, plus statutory accident benefits and uninsured motorist coverage.
It works like this:
When a driver logs into his or her ride sharing app and is “available to accept” a trip, Intact Insurance’s policy provides $1 million third party liability and standard accident benefits. Once a driver accepts a ride, third party liability insurance rises to $2 million, and this coverage continues all the way until the final passenger exits the vehicle. The policy is slightly different between Alberta and Ontario, but the main points remain the same. Uber drivers in Quebec, meanwhile, have additional commercial insurance covering just $1 million in civil liability per incident.
In all three provinces, the additional coverage automatically applies to Uber drivers, regardless of their personal auto insurance. When drivers are not logged into their Uber apps, they are covered by their own personal auto insurance.
With three provinces already using a “kick in” style of insurance, it may be safe to say that whatever comes to BC will look something like it. Whatever the case, we’ll continue to keep an eye on how this type of ride sharing will be introduced to BC, and how any new regulations may affect existing drivers and road users.