Insurance concerns grow for rideshare programs in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Services like Uber and Lyft are supposed to encourage people to not drink and drive, making us all a little safer. But there are growing concerns over how safe you are in one of those rideshare cars.

KXAN has learned some are coming forward questioning Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies.

For Maribeth Kraus and her husband, catching a cab in Austin hasn’t been easy.  Visiting from New York City, she says people there use Uber all the time and caught herself wishing it was here.

Kraus says, “I was up on south Congress and I couldn’t get a cab back and it would’ve been great to be able to call Uber.”

The city has a ban on rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. The Austin City Council, however, is looking at implementing a pilot program aimed at figuring out how to regulate the companies.

But just how safe are you when you request one of these drivers to pick you up?

Mark Hanna with the Insurance Council of Texas questions whether a person has enough coverage if something should happen while riding in a rideshare car.

“Anyone who’s offering rides and getting paid for it needs a commercial insurance policy,” he says.

Officials with both Uber and Lyft say they have liability coverage up to $1 million, and both have a commercial policy and require their drivers also have a personal insurance policy.

Uber has a blog that’s been online since February 10th with information for its passengers.

Lyft also has a blog that outlines more specifically how its insurance works.

“Unfortunately not a lot of people have seen the actual policy. Insurance experts haven’t analyzed the policies to see the fine print– Where the coverage starts and stops,” Hanna adds.

However, both Uber and Lyft say to those who use them that they are  in good hands.

Cab companies tell KXAN when Uber or Lyft drivers file claims on their personal insurance, it puts pressure on the consumer insurance market and that could mean higher rates for all drivers.

The Insurance Council of Texas says it is too early to tell if that is true.

Digging deeper, we wanted to see how you’d fair in other transportation options.

Cab companies like Yellow Cab say they have their insurance on file with the City of Austin.

If a cab is in an accident, the liability falls on the company, not the driver.

But if you’re hurt after a Capital Metro bus causes an accident, you or your insurance would have to file a claim through Capital Metro’s insurance policy.

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