Gov. Brown Signs Insurance Bill for Uber and Competitors

by Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times

RIDESHARE CROPPED 330px-Side_on_collision_wikipedia_ccGov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a pioneering ride-sharing bill that requires insurance coverage for substantial medical bills and property damage suffered by vehicle drivers, passengers and pedestrians involved in accidents.

The measure addresses “treacherous gaps in insurance coverage,” Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), the author of AB 2293, said Wednesday.

Bonilla’s proposal ensures that drivers for services such as Uber and Lyft that carry paying passengers in their private vehicles don’t rely on personal insurance policies when engaging in commercial activities.

The companies must guarantee that their drivers are protected with specially designed ride-sharing policies or company-provided commercial coverage or a combination of both.

Bonilla acknowledged that her bill had “faced an onslaught from opposition” during most of the just-completed legislative session. Uber and Lyft complained that earlier versions required too much insurance coverage that was too expensive.

A final compromise, worked out by the governor’s office, reduced the required insurance coverage to $50,000 for injuries to a single passenger and $100,000 for all occupants of a car with an additional $200,000 worth of coverage available for victims of more serious mishaps.

In the end, the agreement gained support from Uber and Lyft, Silicon Valley tech companies and insurers. Traditional taxi fleet owners and drivers opposed, charging they were unfairly disadvantaged in competition with more lightly regulated ride-sharing companies.

Bonilla praised the agreement for both protecting riders and providing flexibility for the new and fast-growing ride-sharing business.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, however, did not support the bill and backed a proposal at the California Public Utilities Commission. “We urged that there be a higher level of insurance,” Jones said.

The commission is expected to incorporate provisions of the ride-sharing law, which takes effect next July, into proposed regulations now being considered.

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