Uber widens insurance coverage for accident victims, promises to consider publishing full policy

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on March 14, 2014

From The News Desk

Uber is on a roll.

First it expanded its background checks. Then it removed surge pricing and offered rides free during a San Francisco fire. Now, it's tackling the holy grail of ridesharing dilemmas: Insurance. The company is on the war path towards rectifying its previous PR disasters.

Uber announced this morning that its insurance will start covering drivers and potential accident victims whenever the Uber app is open in a driver's car. That's regardless of whether the driver has accepted an Uber fare.

On a conference call with reporters this morning, CEO Travis Kalanick laid out more details of the plan. Asked if he would publish the company's insurance policy for the public (the company's current insurance arrangements are private), Kalanick deflected the question by pointing to the company's "insurance certificate."

However, as Pando has reported, insurance certificates lack details of any custom deals struck with insurance companies, or any loopholes in coverage. To fully understand coverage, riders need to see the full insurance policy.

When I pointed that out, Kalanick acknowledged "a fair question,"  and promised to speak with his head of insurance about the possibility of releasing the policy publicly.

"In terms of whether the insurance policy works, it just does," Kalanick said on the call. "Obviously there's a lot of eyes on Uber and we're going above and beyond to make sure drivers feel protected as well as the public at large."

Of course the reassurance that the policy "just works" isn't much relief given Uber's spotty record with security in the past. Its zero tolerance background checks proved to "work" less than well.

That said, clearly Uber is making a serious effort, both in terms of rider-friendly policies, and in communicating those policies to the public. For a company previously known for its hostility and secrecy, this can only be a positive development.

[Illustration by Cam Floyd for Pandodaily]