BY ELISE STOLTE, POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Uber’s new insurance policy meets every technical requirement demanded by Alberta’s Superintendent of Insurance, says an official with the policy author, Intact Financial.
It just needs political approval from Finance Minister Joe Ceci. Uber officials are getting nervous with just five days remaining to Edmonton’s March 1st deadline.
Intact senior vice president Karim Hirji said he got verbal confirmation from the superintendent several weeks ago. “He’s comfortable with the product structure we’ve agreed to jointly with him and it’s up to the provincial government for further review.”
“The Superintendent of Insurance has been involved in constructive discussions with Intact insurance. But the issue remains under review and no agreement been reached,” said Leah Holoiday, press secretary for the finance minister, in an email.
Uber officials say they will disable the app in Edmonton if they are unable to secure provincially-approved insurance before Edmonton’s new ride-sharing regulations take effect March 1. They are also hoping Mason grants an exemption to the provincial law requiring a Class 4 licence, with a medical and additional driving test, for anyone driving a passenger for hire car.
Hirji said the new Intact policy will be signed with Uber to give all Uber drivers commercial coverage from the moment they accept a ride request to the moment the passenger exits the vehicle. It will be primary coverage, rather than the contingent coverage that caused many to take issue with their current policy.
Each driver will still need personal policies to cover them when they don’t have a ride booked. But since many personal policies say the policy is void if the driver is caught driving anyone for a fee, Intact will offer personal policies that allow ride-sharing. It will also offer contingent, or secondary, coverage for all Uber drivers until other insurance companies start to allow ride-sharing as well.
“We’re hopeful that when other personal insurers understand what the commercial coverage we’re offering is, that more and more companies will permit ride-sharing under their personal policies.”
Uber’s Alberta general manager Ramit Kar said the app will stop working in Edmonton Tuesday if the province doesn’t approve the new insurance. “Unless the province really takes some action on insurance and licensing, we’re not going to be able to continue operations and quite frankly that’s going to cost the city of Edmonton thousands of jobs.”
He’s previously said 4,000 drivers have signed up in the last year, but won’t say how many are still active drivers.
Kar said the company can’t continue to operate without provincially approved insurance after March 1 because the Edmonton bylaw is clear. His position is that drivers were operating in an unregulated space before.
But he also needs the province to wave or change the requirement for a Class 4 licence since most part-time Uber drivers don’t have that. Alberta requires the professional-class licence for anyone driving someone else for pay.
“Class 4 does nothing to improve public safety. … It just ends up creating more red tape for drivers,” said Kar, adding that the majority of the other 70 places that have regulated ride-sharing don’t require a professional-class licence.
Source: Edmonton Sun