Uber, a ride for hire app, is currently facing a legal showdown in Vancouver. For those unfamiliar with Uber, the company’s app connects passengers with drivers who, for a fee, take them to their destination. Uber takes a slice of the action. The Uber business model is proving profitable for the company but disruptive for the taxi industry. A debate revolves around the need for regulation vs reducing consumer prices caused by the artificial monopoly provided to taxi companies.
Without weighing in on the politics of this debate one real world problem exists with Uber given BC’s current legal landscape. The threat of breach of insurance for drivers in the program.
If an Uber driver is involved in an at fault crash while carrying a paying passenger they may be in breach of their insurance coverage with ICBC.
Section 75 of BC’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act invalidates ICBC coverage where “the insured violates a term or condition” in relation to their plan of insurance.
Section 55 of the Regulations set out the applicable terms and conditions and among these are the following:
(a) the use declared in the application for insurance for the vehicle,
So, let’s say a driver with ICBC insurance coverage for pleasure use of their vehicle decides to make a few extra bucks by participating in the Uber program. If he or she is involved in an at fault collision while ‘on the clock’ ICBC could likely use the above legal framework to declare them in breach of their coverage. This means that ICBC would come after the driver for repayment of all insurance claims made following a crash.
Uber’s disruptive technology is welcomed by many and opposed by others. Whatever the ultimate political outcome, it is clear that if a driver does not have properly declared insurance coverage they can face steep financial fallout if ever involved in a collision. Any potential gaps in coverage is a problem which must be solved for a company like Uber to successfully operate in BC.