Uber to offer 'per mile' insurance for drivers. Enough coverage?

Uber is teaming with Metromile, which offers pay-per-mile insurance usually marketed to people who don’t drive long distances. Uber drivers plug in a Metromile tracking device when they accept a trip, letting the insurer distinguish between miles drivers travel on calls and their personal travel.

Julio Cortez/AP/File
Smart phones displaying Uber car availability in New York. Uber will partner with an insurance startup to offer 'per-mile' insurance to drivers in select cities, the ride share company announced this week.

Uber, the increasingly popular (if consistently controversial) ridesharing service, has struck a deal to make insurance available for at least some of the drivers who use its platform.

The company is teaming with fellow startup Metromile, which offers pay-per-mile insurance usually marketed to people who don’t drive long distances. Under the deal, drivers would plug in a Metromile tracking device when they accept a trip. Doing so would let the insurer distinguish between miles drivers travel on calls and their personal travel.

Drivers will get $1 million in primary commercial auto liability coverage through the plan, according to a news release. It was unclear from the release whether Uber will help drivers pay for the insurance.

“Metromile has created an innovative product that responds to the needs of the insurance marketplace,” Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s regional general manager, said in the release. “Driver partners using Uber’s TNC (transportation network company) platform will soon have a new flexible insurance option that is designed specifically for their needs.”

Starting next month, insurance through Metromile will be available to Uber driver partners in California, Illinois and Washington.

A murky issue

Regulation of, and car insurance for, its drivers — which are technically partners, not employees — has been a sticking point for Uber as it has sought to expand its business.

Because ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft are so new, the issue of insurance for rideshare drivers has been murky. Laws regulating ridesharing services vary from state to state and city to city.

Most auto insurers frown upon customers with personal insurance using their vehicles commercially. In November, the San Francisco Chronicle uncovered Geico training documents that detailed consequences for customers who drive for ridesharing companies — including nonrenewal and referral to Geico’s fraud unit.

Allstate and State Farm have said their policies do not cover ridesharing, as have many smaller insurers.

Late last year, Lyft similarly partnered with Metlife to help create insurance products to cover ridesharing drivers.

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