Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State regulator says Uber meets Florida insurance requirement

TAMPA — Ride-share outfit Uber is one step closer to operating legally here now that the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation says the company's policy provides legally binding coverage that meets state requirements.

The company's $1 million commercial insurance policy has been a major point of contention in the fight to bring the service to the Tampa Bay area. The Public Transportation Commission, which regulates for-hire vehicles in Hillsborough County, has opposed the ride-share company since its launch here in April, citing concerns about insurance and licensing, along with insufficient background and vehicle checks.

In recent public meetings, PTC chairman Victor Crist and executive director Kyle Cockream have said they would defer to the state regarding insurance issues. Cockream forwarded a copy of Uber's policy to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation for review.

Monte Stevens, the office's deputy chief of staff, said in an email to Cockream that the policy is legally binding and provides coverage typical of taxis or other for-hire services. Stevens also said the $1 million liability limits are more than what is required of for-hire services.

"The policy appears to follow the typical business auto policies that are used by licensed and admitted carriers in Florida to provide coverage for commercial autos," Stevens wrote. "The policy provides first-dollar coverage while the auto is being driven by the Uber driver and when the auto is providing the livery services as recorded through the Uber application."

Stevens elaborated on the email this week, saying Uber is permitted to do legally binding business in the state and that the policy covers passengers.

"As far as we're concerned … it meets the requirements of the insurance code," Stevens said.

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said he hopes these statements help change the PTC's approach toward ride-share companies.

"What the regulators are saying here confirms what we have said all along," Bennett said. "We've demonstrated that our insurance policy is best in class and has set a new standard for the transportation industry in terms of coverage and what we offer."

Uber and similarly structured competitor Lyft connect smartphone users with nearby drivers who use their own cars. Riders pay by credit card directly through the app. In some areas of the United States, the companies are presenting significant competition to taxi and limousine services.

Stevens deferred to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on whether the policy, when combined with a personal auto policy held by the driver, would provide the coverage necessary under the Florida Financial Responsibility Law. That law requires owners to be financially responsible for damages they cause in a crash.

Highway Safety spokesman John Lucas said until there is a determination as to whether Uber is operating as a for-hire vehicle, the department is unable to answer questions regarding its coverage.

"Under the provisions of the law, insurance companies are responsible for notifying the department of the coverage for the vehicles they insure," Lucas said. "When the vehicles are not covered, the individual's driver license can be suspended or a hold can be placed on the vehicle registration."

Stevens said it is also up to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to determine whether a policy can be issued by a surplus lines carrier as opposed to a member of the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, as is required by the state statute. James River Insurance Co., which issued the Uber policy, is not a member.

Cockream said he still has some concerns, despite the statements from the Office of Insurance Regulation, and is waiting for other state agencies to weigh in.

"If all of the governing bodies over Florida insurance regulation say their insurance is legal, then their insurance is legal," Cockream said. "It just means that the insurance is no longer an issue, but that's only one grain of sand on the beach. There's still a lot of other issues."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2443. Follow @cljohnst.

State regulator says Uber meets Florida insurance requirement 10/16/14 [Last modified: Thursday, October 16, 2014 8:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New Florida driver's licenses available in Tampa Bay

    State Roundup

    The new Florida IDs are beginning to roll out across the state, with some locations in Tampa Bay already carrying the cards.

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced it will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card this month in various locations across the state. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  2. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105

    Blogs

    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  3. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  4. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more

    Blogs

    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have