Automobile Insurance: What Coverage Exists in Virginia For Uber Passengers?
Breit Cantor Grana Buckner—February 11, 2016
As a result of the rapidly expanding popularity of Uber in Virginia, there are more and more accidents involving Uber vehicles. It is necessary for the trial lawyer representing an Uber passenger who was injured to have a thorough understanding of the coverage requirements in Virginia for Uber vehicles.
Uber is a transportation network company (“TNC”), as defined in Virginia Code §46.2-2000 as a person or company “who provides prearranged rides using a digital platform that connects passengers with” drivers who are classified as “TNC partners.” Other TNC’s include companies such as Lyft and Sidecar. Virginia Code § 46.2-2099.52, effective as of January 1, 2016, requires TNCs, such as Uber, to provide both liability coverage and UM/UIM coverage of $1 million, either directly or through their drivers’ own TNC policies. The driver’s personal automobile policy will, in almost all circumstances, not apply to Uber driving, since such policies almost always contain an exclusion for commercial or taxi-like usage. Moreover, Code § 46.2-2099.52(6) further protects insurers by excluding coverage for TNC driving unless the policy carries an explicit endorsement for such coverage.
With regard to uninsured (“UM”) and underinsured (“UIM”) motorist coverage, Virginia’s UM Statute, Va. Code Section 38.2 -2206, governs the priority of coverage. So, in the situation where an Uber passenger is injured, there are multiple applicable policies, providing for UM/UIM coverage in the following order: (1) The policy covering a motor vehicle occupied by the injured person at the time of the accident (i.e., Uber’s policy or the Uber driver’s TNC policy); (2) the policy covering a motor vehicle not involved in the accident under which the injured person is a name insured; (3) the policy covering a motor vehicle not involved in the accident under which the injured person is an insured other than a named insured. Va. Code §38.2-2206(B). Thus, for an injured Uber passenger, the inquiry must not stop at the $1 million Uber policy, but also extend to the passenger’s own family automobile policy as well as the other resident relatives’ policies.