Saturday, February 27, 2016

California Approves Ride-Sharing Driver Insurance

This article was sent to me by one of the ride share companies I work with:

Insurance policies are being offered that close the gap in insurance coverage and help protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians when ride-sharing vehicles are on the road.


(TNS) -- Personal taxi-type services like Uber and Lyft have changed the landscape for those working for and using them in some unexpected ways, and related industries are just starting to catch up.

Case in point, State Farm is introducing a new coverage endorsement in California to help fill insurance gaps for its policyholders who use their personal cars to provide rides for this type of Transportation Network Company (TNC), State Farm officials said.

Madison Voss, spokeswoman for Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, said State Farm is one of eight insurers offering coverage to TNC drivers.

“Commissioner Jones has encouraged insurers to develop auto insurance products for TNC drivers and we are pleased to see one of the state’s largest insurers offer a product that protects drivers, passengers and pedestrians.”
State Farm’s new product will be available beginning March 21, according to the California Department of Insurance website.
“More insurers are stepping up to meet the changing needs of California’s sharing economy,” Commissioner Jones says on the site. “State Farm has created a product that closes the gap in insurance coverage and helps protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians when ride-hailing vehicles are on the road.”
The TNC industry is rapidly changing the livery/taxi industry by using the latest mobile technology to facilitate rides for hire,” State Farm officials said. “With these new transportation services in the marketplace, drivers are exposed to new risks.
Insurance provided by TNCs may be limited in scope and coverage, and personal auto policies don’t generally cover the use of personal cars as taxis or livery vehicles, State Farm spokesman Sevag Sarkissian said.
State Farm is adapting to “changing customer needs” by offering a Transportation network Company Driver Coverage endorsement in California, starting March 21, he said.
“This new product is an example of our commitment to our customers and provides them coverage, and peace of mind, when they use their personal cars to provide TNC services,” State Farm Senior Vice President tom Conley said in a statement.
California’s TNCs provide $1 million liability coverage while a driver has a paying passenger or when a driver is on the way to pick up a passenger, but they provide a much lower liability coverage limit when drivers are “just available for hire,” State Farm officials said. They may not provide any medical payments, comprehensive, or collision coverages at all, and they may not cover the driver for injuries or for damage to the driver’s personal car, they said.
The new, optional State Farm TNC Driver Coverage endorsement, fills this gap, company officials said.
“This cost-effective endorsement provides the driver with the full liability coverage limits (s)he has under his/her auto policy during the times the driver is ‘available for hire,’ and provides all other coverages applicable to the driver’s auto policy during all periods of TNC driving,” Sarkissian said.
An Uber website identifies no drivers specifically in Vallejo or Solano County, though Lyft has a Napa/Sonoma counties territory that appears to cover most of Solano County, including Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville, according to its website.
©2016 Times-Herald (Vallejo, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dealing with Smokers

Nobody should be subjected to the unpleasant odor of a smoker who just put out a cigarette and stuffed the used butt in his or her pocket or cigarette pack.

I recently picked up a gentleman who was not feeling well and leaving work early. It was an Uber Pool and on the way I got a ride request for a second passenger. When we got to the pick up point this woman was on the phone, smoking a cigarette. She put out the smoke and stuffed it in her pocket. Within moments she stuck up the car.

Enough is enough!

I have decided to put this on my LYFT profile and I am placing signs on the windows of my car:

"If you smell like smoke please request another car. This driver is no longer transporting smokers."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Drivers with Uber, Official Super Bowl Partner, Plan Super Bowl Strike

This article has gone viral on social media:

Source: SF Weekly

Super Bowl 50 arrives bearing gifts for San Francisco. Hometown hero Uber, for example, is an official partner of the Big Game — which, according to Super Bowl Host Committee spokesman Nathan Ballard, means that Uber drivers can use taxi stands when ferrying passengers to and from the various events in Super Bowl City, U.S.A., including the parties in San Francisco and the game itself at Levi's Stadium.

That's a nice perk for Uber drivers, some of whom are organizing to make sure no driver takes advantage of it. 

Some of the organizers of yesterday's protest of Uber HQ — demonstrated, but the first one to earn national press — in which 200 or so Uber drivers circled from City Hall to Uber's 1455 Market Street offices and back honking horns, are trying to get as many Uber drivers as possible off of the road before Sunday. 

It's an Uber Super Bowl strike, a show of driver solidarity in the months leading up to the pivotal court decision on whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors. Will it work? Can it work?

Uber drivers say that working conditions, in a word, suck. After the company takes its cut, and after drivers cover their costs including gas and maintenance on their cars, hourly wages fall as low as $8, they say.

To fix this, Uber drivers are presenting succinct demands: fair pay, good hours, and recognition that the $60 billion company is treating its people — or, of course, its contractors — poorly. 

To get the point across, a select cadre of drivers — some of the 200 who descended on Uber HQ and on City Hall — are vowing to shut down the service over Super Bowl weekend.

The timing is auspicious. If Uber shuts down with many famous and well-heeled visitors in town, it could go a long way to damaging the company's image — and perhaps could shame the company into addressing the clear issue with the working conditions for its contractors. 

Uber, meanwhile, appears to be taking note. According to one of the protest organizers, a man who gave his name as Mario, Uber has shut down his account and other accounts of "partners" organizing against the company.

But will it work? How many drivers will take part — and will users give a shit? 

Drivers did not respond to requests for comment from SF Weekly on Tuesday. Though in comments on social media posts, one self-identified Uber driver said he'd be happy to take the customers left hanging by his striking co-contractors.