Toronto Taxi Alliance adds new debate to UberX insurance confusion

Published: December 3, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The war of words between the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and ride sharing company Uber is continuing as the Alliance reacted with skepticism over a recent call for the Ontario government to create a specific insurance policy for Uber drivers. The TTA says any proposed state operated auto insurance coverage for UberX drivers would create a conflict of interests, while pointing out that a valid insurance process already exists.

“There is already an insurance product UberX drivers can purchase: the OPCF 6A,” TTA spokesperson Sam Moini said in a statement on Thursday, referring to the “Permission to Carry Paying Passengers” certificate of auto insurance. “They do not purchase it. To do so would alert their insurance company that they are carrying fares for money, and they risk having their policies cancelled as we saw happen with Aviva in October.”

This comment points to the fact that UberX drivers often work for the company while caught in an auto insurance no-man’s land. They are neither covered by their personal auto insurance policies nor Uber’s own $5 million liability coverage, which dictates that drivers must have sufficient commercial auto insurance to work for the company. The result is UberX drivers operating essentially in an illegal insurance capacity, which has led to the TTA labelling them as “bandits”.

“These drivers do not purchase the product which is available to them now,” Moini said. “What makes anyone think they will buy a new product in the future? They do not obey the laws that exist now. What makes anyone think they will obey new laws in the future?”

The Toronto City Council recently voted to impose regulations on Uber, which would make the company’s quasi-taxi UberX service legal in the city. However, those regulations will not be completed until 2016 and in the meantime Uber continues to operate illegally in Toronto and surrounding Ontario.

Intact Insurance, one of Canada’s leading auto insurance providers, has said that it is working with Uber to create a specific UberX policy that will cover drivers to use their vehicles for personal and commercial (as UberX operatives) use. Although, it is wholly likely that Intact Financial is waiting for Uber’s legal situation to become clearer before committing to any specific deal or policy.

That leaves a sort of anything goes period between now and when Uber is finally operating in Toronto in a legal capacity. In that interim timeframe, drivers have the option of OPCF 6A coverage which would void their personal policies, or continuing to operate without sufficient coverage. It seems the majority will choose the latter.