Bill requiring insurance for shared ride services passes House

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A bill that would make insurance coverage mandatory for passengers who use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Tuesday and moved to the full Senate.

House Bill 1278 says that companies like Uber and Lyft – which use software applications to connect customers seeking rides to drivers using their own vehicles – must make sure those riders are covered by insurance, whether it’s through a company plan or a special addition to the driver’s regular insurance.

Both Uber and Lyft already provide such insurance, but lawmakers say they want to ensure that newcomers to the market do as well.

Rep. Matthew Lehman, R-Berne, authored the bill. It was co-authored by Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, Rep. Edmond Soliday, R-Valparaiso and Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson. The bill passed the House unanimously.

Lehman said the bill essentially says, “We don’t care who covers a passenger, as long as they’re covered.”

Hale said that the safety of the passengers is the most important issue.

“When you get in the backseat of one of these vehicles, we want to make sure that passenger is covered in case something catastrophic happens,” she said.

According to the bill, the coverage should begin when customers connect to a driver through their phone app and ends once the passenger no longer occupies the vehicle after reaching the destination.

Lehman said it’s easy for drivers to pick up an endorsement on their insurance.

Hale said that Uber and Lyft are in favor of the bill because they already have insurances policies similar to the ones described in the bill in place.

Hale said Uber carries a $1.5 million policy, even if the driver working for the company is uninsured, so the person sitting in the backseat will always be covered.

The bill does not apply to traditional taxi or limousine services.

Hale has co-authored a related bill, HB 1090, that would require such ride-sharing services do yearly background checks on their drivers. Uber and Lyft say they already conduct such checks, but other companies say screening drivers can be expensive due to fees the state charges for obtaining records.

The bill has been referred to the committee on courts and criminal code.

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