Karl Newman, NWIC
OLYMPIA -- As the Washington Legislature continues its consideration of legislative proposals related to transportation network companies (TNCs), the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges the state Senate to support SHB 2131, which requires appropriate insurance coverage for commercial ridesharing activities.
“The Washington Legislature is headed in the right direction in its consideration of how best to ensure public safety in the ridesharing space,” said Kenton Brine, assistant vice president of state government relations for PCI. “It’s so important for legislators, TNC drivers and the public to understand that there are gaps in insurance coverage for these services, and SHB 2131 is the strongest proposal to address that problem.”
Personal auto policies generally do not provide liability coverage for commercial rideshare drivers and would not provide coverage if drivers are injured or if their vehicles are damaged in an accident.
“Ridesharing is an innovative app-based business and we applaud innovation,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “However, it’s important to recognize that this is not sharing. This is a business and, without the right business insurance, both the drivers and their customers are left without insurance to protect themselves.”
SHB 2131, which was passed by the House on a bipartisan 77-17 vote, closes the coverage gaps for TNC drivers who have the app on but have not been matched with passengers by requiring TNCs and/or their drivers to maintain "app-on to app-off" coverage for primary liability, uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist, personal injury protection, comprehensive and collision coverage.
“Currently it’s not clear to TNC drivers when the TNC’s coverage is activated,” Newman said. “Anyone using their vehicle to make extra money with a TNC firm, or considering it, is encouraged to talk with their insurance company or insurance broker to understand the liability risks and insurance options before proceeding.”
The Senate has already passed another measure requiring “app-on to app-off” primary coverage for TNC vehicles. But that bill, ESB 5550, does not provide the broad protection for drivers, passengers and the public included in SHB 2131. Specifically, it requires the TNC or TNC driver to provide liability insurance and coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorist risks, but does not require personal injury protection or collision or comprehensive damage coverage. Failure to include such coverage leaves TNC drivers and their passengers at risk of having no ability to recover financially in the event of an accident, according to Brine.
“The insurance requirements included in SHB 2131 are critical to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and Washington’s citizens and should be included in any legislation that opens our state’s roadways to rideshare companies,” said Brine. “We hope the Senate Transportation Committee and the Washington Legislature will close insurance gaps and improve public safety by passing SHB 2131.”
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Oregon, Washington and Idaho.