Mayor Voices Concern over Insurance Regulations Hurting City Residents Injured by Uber, Lyft – Streetsblog New York City
Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday voiced “concern” about an inequality in insurance requirements for Uber and Lyft taxis – revealed in a Streetsblog investigation on Monday – harming urban accident victims, and promised to look into the problem further.
“It gives me concerns and we will give you an answer to that,” de Blasio said on Wednesday when asked about insurance inequality, which provides far less compensation for people driven by Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City injured than anywhere else in the state, although the risk of being hit by a car is much higher in the city.
New York State requires Uber and Lyft taxis to have $ 1.25 million liability insurance – to compensate accident victims for their losses – when drivers take ride requests or have passengers. But the state exempts New York City from this requirement. Instead, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission requires that rented vehicles, including Uber and Lyft cars, bear as little as $ 100,000 in liability insurance, a sum that lawyers say they often don’t cover the actual cost of injuries Accident victim.
New York’s Byzantine Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements for App-Based Taxis and Personal Cars.
The city has not increased this minimum insurance requirement for rental vehicles in two decades, despite the fact that medical care costs have skyrocketed and about 80,000 app-based taxi drivers have flooded the city’s streets. When asked on Friday whether the city should increase this TLC requirement, de Blasio disagreed and promised to provide further comments at a later date.
“There is a logic in what you say, I see it right away,” he said. “Obviously based on Vision Zero, which was a fundamental philosophy of this government, we have to recognize all the things that we have to do to keep people safe and also create an awareness of the need for people to drive differently . And I think these economic factors play a role in that. So I’ll have a look at this quickly. “
The mayor was one of a handful of elected leaders and activists who were quick to respond to Streetsblog’s investigation with similar concern.
A spokesman for Governor Hochul said road safety should be a top priority and that her office is reviewing the loophole in insurance requirements.
State Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany), Chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, also promised to look into the matter.
“If there are any differences between the minimum insurance limits for passengers in New York City compared to the rest of the state, the Insurance Committee will certainly look more closely to see if any changes need to be made,” he said in a statement.
And Senator John Liu (D-Queens), a former actuary and a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he was considering legislation on the matter.
“Insurance requirements should adequately reflect the frequency and extent of risk, and so it seems inconsistent that the minimum required in NYC is lower than in the rest of the state. Uber is once again putting passengers and the public at greater risk – in the same way they have always passed traditional employer costs on to the public – by claiming their drivers are independent contractors, “Liu said in a statement. “We are investigating the problem and considering legislation to provide adequate protection for drivers and the public.”
According to a Streetsblog analysis of data from the US Census Bureau and the Albany-based Institute for Road Safety Management and Research, pedestrians and cyclists are twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured by a car in the city as anywhere else in the state. And thousands of “black cars” – the TLC category that includes Uber and Lyft taxis – are involved in accidents with injuries every year, city data shows.
Pedestrians and cyclists are twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured by cars in New York City as in the rest of the state.
Uber told Streetsblog that the insurance gaps are smaller than it appears as the company takes out $ 1 million additional liability insurance for each trip around town. But the tech giants argue in court that the drivers of their apps are independent contractors, not employees, and therefore companies are not liable for any injuries they cause.
According to attorneys who have represented accident victims in lawsuits against Uber and Lyft, the companies appear to always come up with a settlement whenever a seriously injured plaintiff files a credible lawsuit. These comparisons are tied to strict nondisclosure agreements that obscure the financial responsibility multi-billion dollar companies assume for accidental injuries.
Many defended the TLC’s regulations against Streetsblog, noting that the agency has stricter requirements for app-based taxis than many other cities. In a statement, TLC Commissioner and Chairperson Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk stated that the agency’s insurance requirements exceed government minimum requirements and that the TLC requires vehicles and their drivers to be licensed by the agency.
Road safety advocates also expressed dismay at the different insurance requirements.
“This policy is unfair and escapes New Yorkers when they need help most,” said Marco Conner DiAquoi, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. “Victims and their families know all too well the immense physical, emotional and financial consequences of traffic accidents. Accident victims in the five boroughs deserve the protection and support they would get anywhere else in New York State. “
DiAquoi urged city leaders to do more to redesign dangerous roads to prevent accidents before they happen and urged Albany lawmakers to pass a package of laws that will make roads in the city and across the country safer target.
Leah Golby, chairman of the New York Bicycling Coalition, called the inequality “out of order” and said pedestrians, cyclists and others using public roads deserve the same protections in New York City as in the rest of the state.
“Whether you are in one of the five boroughs, Long Island, Buffalo or the Adirondacks – it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Everyone needs the same protection.”
The city also requires cars on the Uber and Lyft platforms to carry $ 200,000 of “personal injury protection,” also known as “flawless” insurance, which is more than the $ 50,000 required in the rest of the state. But flawless insurance is designed to immediately cover medical bills and lost wages caused by an accident, not the long-term pain and suffering that may ensue that has earned millions of dollar judgments and settlements for urban accident victims.
The different regulations also endanger drivers and passengers. Outside of the city, the state requires that Uber and Lyft cars carrying passengers have $ 1.25 million coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists, which compensates people hit by drivers with little or no car insurance . In the city, the requirement is only $ 100,000.