Uber, Lyft offer support for insurance requirements under approved bill 

State regulators and app-based ride services Uber and Lyft have reached common ground on a longtime point of contention -- insurance -- potentially paving the way for smoother operations moving forward.

Assembly Bill 2293, which unanimously passed the state Assembly 70-0 Thursday, closes an insurance-gap issue to ensure a driver has coverage when the transportation network company's app is on but the driver has not retrieved a passenger.

The bill -- pushed by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, after a driver waiting for an Uber hail fatally ran over 6-year-old Sofia Liu on New Year's Eve in San Francisco -- calls for $50,000 minimum insurance coverage per person, $100,000 coverage per incident for personal injury and $30,000 for property damage while a ride app is in use.

Uber and Lyft swung their opposition to support the bill after Bonilla met with the Governor's Office late Tuesday and reduced the excess coverage requirement from $500,000 to $200,000 based on what the Gov. Jerry Brown indicated he would be comfortable signing into law.

"There was nowhere else at that point for them to turn," Bonilla said of the ride services finally showing support.

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in a statement: "We have agreed to a compromise that provides clarity for the ridesharing community in California. However, a truly permanent solution must include the creation of modern insurance products tailored for drivers who participate in peer-to-peer transportation."

Eva Behrend, spokeswoman for Uber, which initially emailed its customers urging them to oppose AB 2293, said in a statement: "Californians love Uber and lawmakers have heard them loud and clear. Common sense has prevailed and the winners are Californians."

The bill was approved by the state Senate 30-4 Wednesday and, if signed by the governor, would go into effect July 1.

Bonilla said the bill in its current state still accomplishes her original goal -- to balance an innovative business model with consumer protection.

"I've said since the beginning I didn't believe those two things were mutually exclusive," she said. "And I think reaching this agreement has proven that good businesses in California can both drive and protect consumers."

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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