Summary

A bill enacted in December 2015 by the Ohio General Assembly establishes uniform insurance requirements for transportation service companies, including Uber and Lyft. The law will become effective on March 23.

Background

Public adoption of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft has steadily increased in recent years. As this has occurred, many state lawmakers have come to believe that Ohio’s decades-old regulatory code must be changed in order to ensure that TNC drivers and passengers are protected from additional risk.

Typically, TNCs cover their drivers with commercial insurance during times when they are in route to pick up a customer, and when a customer is in their vehicle. However, TNCs often don’t cover drivers leading up to that point — i.e., when they are logged into the company’s application, but have not yet accepted a customer. Potentially, this allows TNC drivers to drive uninsured while performing a commercial activity.

HB 237, sponsored by Reps. Bob Hackett (R-London) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), rectifies this by addressing specific gaps that exist in the way TNCs are insured and regulated.

The legislation amends the Revised Code “to regulate transportation network companies and transportation network company services and to exempt an insurer that provides motor vehicle liability insurance from the requirement that it provide financial responsibility identification cards to a policyholder if the insurer provides the ability to use an electronic wireless communications device to provide proof of financial responsibility.”

Click here to view HB 237

HB 237 requires Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft to maintain $1 million liability insurance coverage and conduct background checks on their drivers. The law also applies to self-employed drivers.

HB 237 establishes two phases of insurance coverage: 1) the time before a passenger requests a ride, and 2) when a passenger is connected to a driver or in the vehicle.

Additionally, HB 237 requires TNCs to:

  • Apply to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for a permit to operate;
  • Perform background checks on their drivers;
  • Disclose how fares are calculated, including trip estimates and e-receipts;
  • Comply with state, local and TNC anti-discrimination policies.

A committee amendment added further disclosure requirements in certain situations, including following an accident in order to allow insurance companies to determine coverage. The amendment also requires that insurance coverage required by TNCs meets an “A” rating by independent rating agencies.

NRS Position

The Ohio Association for Justice (OAJ) supports HB 237, and we at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg do as well.

Many Ohioans have embraced the convenience and responsiveness of services like Uber and Lyft. HB 237 allows these services to grow and become even more available while ensuring uniform insurance coverage and safety standards.

The attorneys at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A. will continue to actively monitor legislation that affects Ohio consumers and businesses. For more information, please contact us today at 216-289-4740, Toll Free at (855) Got-Hurt, or by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form.