Drivers for Lyft and Uber must (theoretically, and yeah, legally) be insured at all times on the road. The ride-hailing process, however, is a unique one. There's driving around as a private citizen waiting for a passenger to request a ride, there's picking up a passenger who has requested a ride, and then there's shuttling that passenger to their destination.
Responsibility shifts during that process — which is all legal — with the ride-hailing company, the driver, or both in combination liable depending on the circumstances of an accident.
That's the way it's been, but now, or in two days' time, Lyft drivers can opt to switch to a (hopefully) simpler system designed by the company in conjunction with MetLife Auto & Home's, as writes Bay City News. Farmers and Metromile already have offerings in a similar category, but those don't cover drivers after they've accepted or picked up a passenger — that time is still covered by Lyft or Uber.
In the end, it would appear to be in Lyft's best interest to have comprehensive insurance from an outside agency for their contractors.
Currently, the company offers a $100,000 contingent policy for when a driver has the Lyft app on but hasn’t accepted a ride request or a passenger. Correction: Per Lyft, who wrote in to SFist, "when Ab 2293 went into effect earlier this year, Lyft's insurance policy (or a personal policy, like MetLife's, specifically designed for ridesharing) became primary any time that the app is on."
The Lyft/MetLife policy launched in Colorado early this year, and now here in California, is likely a sign of more, similar policies to come. Those could pertain to multiple companies, or they could continue to be company-specific with an Uber-only policy. However, that might present added confusion, since so many contractors drive for both Lyft and Uber, alternating fares depending on requests and other factors.
“As demand for ridesharing services increases, making sure ridesharing drivers are able to obtain insurance to protect themselves, their passengers and pedestrians has been a top priority,” California's Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement picked up by the Insurance Journal announcing his approval of the policy. Some might be discouraged by the fact that insurance policies have lagged so far behind the day-to-day reality of ride-hailing, but this seems to be a turn in the right direction.