Business has more than doubled for Uber driver and senior Noah Sakin since the fall semester started, and managing both work and school has become a balancing act. But a bit of relief might be coming his way in the form of a state bill that would insure the cars of those in ride-sharing services.
“People ask me all the time if I am insured for driving for Uber,” he said. “I am, but it’s my own insurance, not theirs. We’re not commercial vehicles, so we take on more liability that way. So I’m definitely for the bill if it’ll insure drivers like me.”
Ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are one step away from state regulation after the North Carolina House voted last Thursday in favor of legislation that would set standards for driver background checks and company coverage on drivers’ cars.
The bill, which would also require ride-sharing services to pay $5,000 in annual state permit fees, easily passed the House and has also received Senate approval. It will be put into law if signed into legislation by Gov. Pat McCrory, who has not said anything against the bill publicly.
Uber, the most well known of the ride-sharing services, expanded its reach to Elon University last fall. It runs through a free-to-download smartphone application and has Uber-approved drivers pick up customers requesting rides. Customers can track the driver’s route and review his or her performance afterward.
Sakin said the new bill providing insurance for drivers in the state will help the company in the long run.
“I think it’s a good thing to have,” he said. “Uber takes on a lot of liability by having independent contractors they don’t really know transporting people, so having laws in place to protect drivers and passengers is absolutely a good idea.”
Sakin said he has worried about getting into accidents while driving for Uber because of the lack of company liability coverage.
Uber has endorsed the bill’s regulations. North Carolina Uber general manager Arathi Mehrotra said in a statement that the vote was a victory for the company’s drivers and riders in the state.
“Today’s vote is a huge win for riders and drivers in North Carolina, and confirms that the General Assembly overwhelmingly stands for innovation and greater choice and opportunity,” she said.
Sakin said the bill, if passed, might increase the rates of ride-sharing services in the state because of the required driver coverage and permit fees.
“Now they might not be able to lower the rates for a little while,” he said. “But it’s better than one driver having an accident that would shut down the company in the state.”
In recent months, Georgia, Wisconsin and Virginia have passed legislation with similar ride-sharing service regulations.