Our country is dealing with some phenomenon’s that we have never experienced before and its causing some big changes in the insurance business. Not all insurance companies have caught up to the technological advances of Drones, Driverless Cars and Ride Sharing or “Transportation Network Companies” as states are now referring to now.
Drones and Driverless cars are going to have to be an article for another day. For now, companies like Uber and Lyft are quickly changing how Americans get around. They both offer an opportunity for individuals to make money off their personal vehicle by giving others a ride for a fee. Ride sharing is a trend that is developing into a major industry that insurance companies and state lawmakers have quickly had to adjust to. Most states are opening up to this, some more openly than others as you would expect and the same goes with insurance companies.
What does Ride sharing have to do with Insurance?
Most personal auto policies are going to exclude business use from coverage on your policy. Many carriers have “business use” as an option, however it is important to know what that means as the coverage can vary greatly from carrier to carrier. So if you are driving for one of the new or existing Ride sharing companies it is important to know your personal auto coverage well. If Ride sharing is not covered at all, you really should take action. Either by seeing if a commercial policy is available with your current insurance company that would cover Ride sharing (not all carriers do) or by shopping for a new personal or commercial auto policy that will cover these operations.
Limits, limits limits….
As insurance agents we preach that the state minimum limits are very risky for your personal auto policy. In states like Missouri the state minimum liability limits are $25,000 for bodily injury, $50,000 for total bodily injury and $10,000 for total property damage. Think about the last time you went to the doctor with anything serious. It’s not far fetched to say these types of limits are not hard to meet in any serious vehicle accident. Consider if you were to have a paying customer in the car or possibly multiple. Many articles are pointing out the coverage gaps that Ride sharing brings about. This is important, however the limits of your policy are something that need to be addressed even if your insurance carrier says they will cover the claim. The coverage doesn’t matter as much if the limit of the coverage is too small to cover the claims.
For example; say you were to get into an accident which caused injuries to the another person which resulted in bodily injury claims of $90,000. If you have state minimum limits in Missouri with $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person this means $65,000 of the damages are not covered by your insurance and that goes back to you personally. Forget about mortgage, student loans and all other bills, that is a big hit that leaves nothing for you to show for it. If you had spent a little more on your auto insurance policy and had limits that were more acceptable, your insurance could cover this.
The amount an agent would recommend for auto insurance is going to vary on your individual circumstances and risk. Generally most recommended commercial auto policies have limits of at least $1 Million combined single limit. This allows a sufficient baseline of liability limits to make sure your covered claims are covered to the amount you would need them to be. The minimum limits we would typically recommend for a personal auto policy are around $100,000 bodily injury for each person, $300,000 for bodily injury liability for each accident and $100,000 Property Damage Liability. If you add the Ride-Share exposure, increasing those limits to at least $500,000 or $1 Million individually or combined single limit is better to make sure your protected for the full amount you need. This does cost a little more in premium. However, if a claim occurs the premium difference is the last thing you are going to worry about. Especially if your limits are less than the cost of the accident.