The Uber driver insurance gap

This is what my State Farm auto insurance agent told me about being a driver for Uber.

State Farm and most other large insurance companies will have no problem with me being an Uber driver, so long as I understand one thing. That is, as soon as I turn on the Uber Partner app (meaning I’m ready and waiting to accept a rider), and until I turn off the app (meaning I’m back to being a “normal” driver), I am not covered at all by my State Farm policy.

Uber provides insurance for its drivers, summarized here.

There is a gap that my agent pointed out. While I am waiting to accept a rider with the app on, State Farm doesn’t cover me at all, and Uber only provides liability insurance, so I will not have collision or liability insurance during that time. A tree better not fall on my car. I better not get into a collision, and an uninsured driver better not hit me during that time.

A very common suggestion on Uber driver videos is that while I wait for a passenger, I don’t cruise around, in fact I should park with my engine off while I wait. This would tend to both reduce the probability of an accident, and reduce my costs by not wasting gas while I wait.

Would you drive for Uber under these circumstances, assuming you have some desire to pick up some extra money?

Would you look for some supplemental insurance to fill that gap?

FYI, my car is brand new, a 2016 model just over a month old.

Of course, that increases wear on your starter. There is no free lunch.

I know somebody who has crashed into three parked vehicles in the last two years (you should see their insurance bill!), so I might be a bit prejudiced here, but I would get some kind of insurance to cover the gap if I had a brand new vehicle like yours.

Bolding mine.

One of those two words is not what you meant to type. Or something else is goofed up with that sentence. Please clarify.

I wouldn’t do Uber (or anything else) without proper wall-to-wall insurance. What’s at risk is greater than the benefit you hope to obtain.

If a tree did fall on your car, would you be able to cover the repairs out of pocket? What about if you get t-boned by an uninsured driver? What if you’re the one doing the t-boning? Could you cover the bills by yourself?

Sorry, I meant collision or comprehensive insurance.

My remarks in this post are not intended to be taken very seriously.

I just thought you might get a laff from hearing this.

Since I became 30 years old, I have had six serious accidents. In all six cases, I was sitting in my car and was stationary. I was either waiting in line for a ferry (in Vancouver) or sitting at a red light or a stop sign. The accidents all occurred when someone struck my car with their car.

I don’t know how insurance coverage works in your jurisdiction. But I was living in B.C. (British Columbia) at the time that all six accidents occurred and B.C. is a sort of “no-fault” insurance zone. That means that it does not matter who is at fault in the accident. That always seemed ridiculous to me - especially since I was never at fault in these six accidents.

But I never complained much because I had a great lawyer and he was able to get me cash awards for pain and suffering from all of the drivers who hit me while I was standing still.

The only other thing you might consider to help with your insurance situation is when you are waiting for an Uber fare, you might want to consider getting out of your car entirely and waiting somewhere that is at least 50 yards away from your car.

One other point that I discovered fairly late in life that may be of interest to you:

I was sitting in my car with the engine off and I was just waiting with nothing to do for about 30 minutes when a police car approached me and a police woman came up to my car and asked to see my license and registration. I asked her, “Why? I wasn’t driving. Why do I have to show you my license?”

I was very lucky she didn’t throw the book at me and arrest me because the law is that as long as you are sitting anywhere in the front seat of your car, you are considered to be the “driver” (as strange as that sounds) and if you are drunk you can be charged with drunk driving and if you refuse to show your driver’s license when requested, you can get into a whole lot of trouble. It’s just as if you were driving and refused.

So, if you wind up driving for Uber, I hope this info may be of value to you.

BTW, this “law” is valid in B.C. I don’t know whether it would still be valid in your jurisdiction. But it might be a good thing to know. It surprised the Hell out of me.

Oops. Excuse me. I was mistaken.

The incident with the police woman happened in Toronto in 1976. But it would be good to find out if that “law” is currently valid in your jurisdiction.

For instance, if you are an Uber driver and are driving someone who is drunk, it would be worth knowing if they are sitting in the front seat - even though you are the driver - can they be charged with drunk driving?

I know that sounds Uber ridiculous. But the way that law was explained to me, it would seem that you can be charged with drunk driving even though you are sitting in the passenger seat.

It seems ridiculous that you could be charged with impaired driving even though someone else is driving. But I guess it would be important to find that out.

Maybe there is a criminal lawyer who might read this and would know if there is any truth to this?

Wisconsin has at-fault insurance. So far in 30+ years of driving I’ve had 2 accidents, both were the other drivers’ faults and they had insurance, and I’ve never even had to submit a claim. I’ve just gotten settlement offers from the other insurers.

And the drunk driving law in WI is basically the same as yours. You don’t have to be moving or even have the key in the ignition, and you can still be charged and convicted.