TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a 108-10 vote Wednesday night, a bill regarding ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft passed as amended following its third reading by the Florida House of Representatives.
The legislation ensures that drivers are covered for the duration of the time they are using the ridesharing app and also preempts local bans on ridesharing.
Questions about insurance coverage when it comes to ride-sharing services are a hot topic among state and local lawmakers, and Local 10 News viewers.
Many have contacted the Call Christina hotline with questions about insurance implications if a ride-sharing driver working for a transportation network company gets into a crash.
The moments regulators and insurance companies are worried about are those when a driver has logged onto the app, but has yet to be matched with a passenger. During that time, Uber's coverage policy is contingent.
"(If an) Uber driver or a TNC driver hits you during that period in the process, it would be up to their personal insurance policy to first deny the claim before the TNC insurance will take over," said Logan McFaddin of Property Casualty Insurers of America.
Many personal policies are likely to deny the claim because the driver is logged onto the app, which is considered a commercial activity.
"If currently you got hit by a TNC driver, you would have difficulty settling that claim quickly," said McFaddin. "You might not ever get the medical provisions because uninsured motorists are not included in that coverage."
Republican co-sponsor Rep. James W. Grant of House District 64 told Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez over the phone Thursday afternoon.
"I think we need to put a regulatory framework in place that preserves public safety, but does not prevent consumers from making choices," he said.
A companion bill is making its way through the Florida Senate.
"While I am hopeful that we can get it passed this year, I am not necessarily confident it will happen this year given the Senate's approach and reluctance to handle this issue," Grant said.
Insurance industry groups are applauding the House vote.
"House Bill 509 is similar to model legislation that was agreed upon by the insurance industry and TNCs [Transportation Network Companies] last year, and has been passed in some form by 29 other states," McFaddin said in a statement. "The model legislation is meant to ensure that whenever a TNC driver is in an accident, there is certainty regarding who is responsible for the insurance coverage so that medical claims are paid quickly, vehicles are fixed and all parties can quickly move on with their lives. PCI thanks Representative Matt Gaetz for his leadership on this issue and we encourage the Florida Senate to support this critical legislation."
"Uber would like to thank the bipartisan coalition of Florida House members who voted overwhelmingly to pass this sensible, modern ridesharing legislation," Florida's general manager for Uber, Matt Gore, said in a statement Thursday. "We hope the Senate works quickly to take up this issue, and for Florida to join the more than 20 states across the country that have permanently secured the benefits of expanded access to safe transportation options and flexible work opportunities."
Lyft also released a statement Thursday.
"Rep. Gaetz's bill allows innovative transportation options like Lyft to continue to grow and thrive in Florida," Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said. "We applaud the House of Representatives for passing comprehensive rules that provide clarity for drivers and consumers across the state, and urge the Senate to do the same."