By Evelyn Harford | Ottawa Metro

Uber will be legal in Ottawa at the end of the month, but personal injury lawyers warn that some insurance available for the ride-sharing drivers is tricky.

Ottawa city councillors voted to legalize Uber under a new licensing category in April. The new category will require drivers, among other things, to have minimum insurance coverage – a minimum of $5 million commercial liability and $2 million general liability insurance.

And as long as a ride-sharing driver complies with the insurance the city is asking for, as well as other requirements such as background check, they can legally drive for Uber once the bylaw comes into effect on Sept. 30, said Anthony Di Monte, the city’s general manager of emergency and protective services.

But he said it’s up to individual drivers, and Uber, to ensure that they’re properly covered for ride-sharing activities in the event of an accident.

“Understand your policy,” said Jaime Wilson, a personal injury lawyer at McNally Gervan Lawyers. “If there is an accident and you’re not properly insured there can be ramifications that can affect you.”

Personal injury lawyers warn that being properly insured can be tricky business for any ride-sharing driver.

Only two insurance companies have been approved by the (FSCO) Financial Services Commission of Ontario to offer insurance policies specifically for ride-sharing drivers.

One policy, offered through Aviva Canada, is added to a driver’s existing car insurance policy but limits them to 20 hours of ride-share driving per week; FSCO said this policy was intended for part-time drivers.

The second, approved by the FSCO this July, is offered through Intact through a partnership with Uber and will cover the driver from the moment their app is turned on until the moment the passengers exits the vehicle, with no limitation on hours of driving. Intact said Uber drivers are automatically covered when operating the apps and the first of it’s kind in Canada.

However, FSCO warns that drivers who engage in ride sharing need to inform their insurance brokers or personal car insurance company that they’re carrying passengers for the purpose of ride-sharing because they said, “insurers are not required to (ensure) ridesharing activities and may cancel or not agree to renew a policy whether or not they’re informed.”

You may think you’re covered until you’re not.

Coun. Scott Moffatt said would-be drivers need to be aware of what coverage they have, because like anybody who gets in an accident without proper coverage, “You’ll be screwed.”

Before stepping into the driver’s seat and carting passengers around as ride-share driver, lawyers and insurance brokers alike say would-be drivers need to do their homework to avoid legal headaches in the event of an accident.

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