Uber comes to CR

As many of you know, Uber service – an alternative to taxi service – recently has become available in this area. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that Uber began operating on December 4, 2014, and was very popular as a ride-sharing service on New Year’s Eve.

However, as the newsletter suggests, while Uber and other ride-sharing services provide a valuable and economical service, there are reasons to be cautious. This summer, the Iowa Insurance Commissioner, Nick Gerhart, joined a number of other state insurance commissioners in issuing the following tips and advice for those intending to drive for, or use the services of, Uber or other ride-sharing services:

• Review carefully any type of agreement involving car-sharing or ride-sharing. If you are driving for one of these services they may have commercial coverage that adequately covers you in the event of an accident. However, please review any coverage offered by the transportation company.

• Before you decide to rely on insurance that is provided by others, be sure to get a copy of the policy and ask an insurance professional to make certain it covers all of your exposures.

• If using such a service, evaluate who may be responsible if you are injured and whether coverage will be available.

• Talk to your insurance company or agent to see what is and isn’t covered. The exclusions in your personal automobile policy or umbrella liability policy for this type of use will likely apply to all types of coverage, including coverage for liability to third people, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, coverage for medical payments for people using or occupying your vehicle, comprehensive physical damage coverage, collision physical damage coverage, and coverage limits on the insurance company’s duty to defend you in a lawsuit.

• If the car-sharing or ride-sharing service provides some type of “umbrella” insurance, find out if that coverage includes the duty to defend you in a lawsuit.

Those of us who have used the service elsewhere or in eastern Iowa can speak to its efficiency and affordability. However, before you become involved, whether as a service provider or user of the service, be sure to investigate the service in order to protect yourself.