The ride-sharing service Uber runs into insurance issues and safety concerns

January 23rd, 2015 by admin

Right before Christmas, on December 18, the ride-sharing service Uber launched in Edmonton. But the quick launch (officials were only give notice hours beforehand) caught many Edmonton officials by surprise. Moreover, it came weeks before city councillors had scheduled a debate over whether to allow the service, Elise Stolte of the Edmonton Journal reports

Uber has faced its fair share of criticism of late, and not just from taxi drivers. Many of the criticisms, especially of UberX — the version launched in Edmonton — center on private drivers' not having commercial insurance and not being screened by an independent party. For instance, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has said that Uber drivers' personal insurance could be invalid if the driver hasn't notified their insurer that they're using their car for profit. 

While Uber representatives have tried to counter these claims by arguing they do have driver screening and insurance measures in place, recent events in U.S. cities such as Boston and San Francisco have raised alarm among communities and officials, and led them to question just how effective the company's standards are.  

In Boston last month, an Uber driver was charged with sexually assaulting a female passenger. In San Francisco, the family of a six-year-old girl, who was was hit and killed by an Uber driver in between fares, is suing the ride-sharing service. Uber has claimed its insurance policy of $5 million doesn't apply in the particular case because no passenger was in the driver's car at the time.

While some jurisdictions have chosen to accommodate Uber, Stolte notes that others have sought court injunctions to ban the company from operating without proper permits, amidst safety and insurance concerns.