Ride-sharing insurance regulations adopted

ALBERTA HAS become the first province to adopt auto insurance regulations for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and TappCar.
The path to such a regime was cleared earlier this year with the passage of Bill 16, the Transportation Safety Amendment Act, which gave cabinet power to draft regulations.
Now, following consultations with transportation network companies, the province’s Transportation and Treasury Board and Finance ministries have developed a system covering insurance coverage, licensing and police information checks.
“Our primary goal is to ensure all of Alberta’s road users — drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists — are safe,” said Transportation Minister Brian Mason.
“This regulation provides clear rules and guidelines for transportation network companies who want to operate in our province.”
A new policy, Alberta Standard Automobile Form Transportation Network SPF9, is now available for TNCs, which may purchase the policy through a participating insurance agent or broker.
The policy will cover all TNC drivers from the moment they log into their company’s mobile app to provide rides for hire.
The insurance is to be purchased by the TNC, not the individual driver. Once a driver is on the job, the policy kicks in automatically in three stages.
Period 1 begins when the driver activates the TNC app with no passengers, providing $1m in contingent third-party liability, with no collision or comprehensive coverage.
Periods 2 and 3 are activated when a fare is accepted and when the driver has picked up a passenger.
These periods provide $2m in third-party liability coverage, with optional collision or comprehensive coverage.
One product, an endorsement form for TNC drivers, provides additional insurance coverage for the TNC driver who works fewer than 20 hours a week.
When the driver is not logged into the company app, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy would apply.
Intact Financial and Pembridge Insurance have announced they will provide collision and comprehensive policies for drivers in Period 1.
Mr. Mason told a press conference the insurance is valid only for fares arranged through the app. A TNC driver hailed on the street would not be insured.
TNCs that do not comply with the regulation may be fined up to $50,000 per offence per day.
Meanwhile, every Uber driver in Alberta and Ontario is now automatically covered under the new Intact Financial ride-sharing policy purchased by Uber.
Karim Hirji, Intact’s senior vp of international and ventures, told Thompson’s the new coverage comes as a result of collaboration between the three stakeholders, the Alberta superintendent of insurance, Uber and Intact Financial.
The transportation minister phrased it a little differently, telling a news conference that his ministry, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury Branch and the superintendent developed the coverage following consultation with stakeholders, including more than one insurer and more than one TNC.
Mr. Hirji said that, in addition to the new SPF9 coverage, Intact would also offer a personal lines policy to Uber drivers.
The personal insurance for Uber drivers covers periods zero and one, which are generally considered personal in nature. The policy Intact provides directly to Uber covers periods two and three, which are considered commercial in nature.
Jean-Christophe de la Rue is senior communications associate at Uber Canada. He told Thompson’s via email that every Uber driver in Alberta will automatically be covered under the new policy.
“(The policy is) provided by Intact and purchased by Uber (and) offers $2m in third-party liability coverage plus all other required coverages,” he said.
“Approval of this new ride-sharing insurance policy is a key step to bring Uber back to Edmonton and support our efforts to serve Albertans across the province.”
Uber withdrew from Edmonton when the city insisted its drivers be licensed and insured in the same manner as taxi drivers.
Mr. de la Rue said he did not know when Uber would relaunch in the province.
The personal policy for Uber drivers will be distributed through Intact Financial subsidiaries Intact Insurance, Novex and Belairdirect. It has amended its underwriting rules to allow customers to participate at a small additional charge and will provide a contingent coverage in Period 1 in case a driver has a claim denied by their personal lines insurer.
In addition to Uber, two local transportation network companies are operating in major Alberta cities. Edmonton-based TappCar and Cowboy Taxi, based in the Calgary suburb of Airdrie, have been in business since March, when they accepted conditions laid down by civic governments.
Both companies said they and their drivers already meet standards set out by the provincial government.
While Alberta and Ontario are the first jurisdictions in which full coverage options are available for Uber drivers, Intact’s Mr. Hirji said Quebec is expected to follow suit soon.
There the provincial government recently passed a bill that opens the door to the possibility of TNCs.
“The bill allowed the government and Uber to launch a pilot project, so we are very much in discussion with the regulator in Quebec to try and create a product there as well,” Mr. Hirji said. “The pilot project (contains) many different (aspects) and insurance is just one piece but having proper insurance in place is going to be needed for the pilot.”
Mr. Hirji stressed that although Alberta is the first province to announce the comprehensive insurance availability, all three have been very open in terms of understanding the dire need for proper insurance.
“It can be tackled in this way that we have (in Alberta) and our solution is the only one that will protect all drivers and passengers on Day 1 when participating in ride-sharing.”
He said the simplicity of covering all phases of the driver’s interaction with the passenger removes complexities such as drivers having to find personal lines coverage and passengers being unsure whether they are covered in the event of a collision.
“With our policy they know exactly what is covered and as soon as they walk into an Uber ride-sharing vehicle, there is protection.”
Aviva Canada said it will be expanding its ride-sharing coverage endorsement to Alberta drivers as of Aug. 1.
“With ride-sharing on the rise, consumers in Alberta now have new options available to them,” Greg Somerville, president and ceo of Aviva Canada said.
“Following the footsteps of our Ontario ride-share solution, we’re thrilled to address a market need in Alberta with a simple and affordable solution.”
“Our insurance coverage will provide drivers and passengers with absolute peace of mind while ride-sharing.”
The product that Aviva is offering is an endorsement form for the drivers who can buy additional coverage when working fewer than 20 hours a week for a TNC.
Aviva said it is reviewing the SPF9 policy and considering its own insurance solution for TNC companies.
Pembridge Insurance’s coverage is also an endorsement extending coverage under its standard personal auto policy to TNC drivers.
“(Ride-sharing) is not going away — it’s growing,” said Bob Tisdale, Pembridge president and chief operating officer.
“The insurance industry needs to be flexible and forward-thinking to address customers’ evolving needs.”