Florida Declares Uber Drivers Independent Contractors (Not Employees)

Posted on December 27, 2015

In an interview with Insurance Journal, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said that “transportation network companies” (TNCs) like Uber have gaps in insurance coverage consumers should beware of. He was talking in relation to a lawsuit brought against Uber that’s been in the news recently.

Two Florida Uber drivers sued the company for employee benefits. But, in early December 2015, the governor’s office sided with the rideshare company. The two drivers have been officially named “independent contractors.” As independent contractors, the drivers won’;t receive social security, Medicare, workers’ compensation benefits, or unemployment insurance. Uber stands by its position that drivers are in business with them for the freedom of being able to make their own hours. The Department of Economic Opportunity agreed with the decision, saying that Uber acts a middleman for drivers using the app to pick up riders.

This means Uber gets to save a lot of money, but it also means consumers have to think twice about tapping the button on their Smartphone. In Florida, taxis are required to have “commercial” insurance that exists 24/7 regardless of whether the taxi is on-duty or off-duty, if the driver is using the taxi for personal use, or if the rider pays through an app or cash. Taxis in Florida are always covered. Uber has many gaps in insurance coverage, including:

  • When someone signs up to drive for Uber and doesn’t tell their personal car insurance company.
  • When a driver has the app on, but hasn’t accepted a fare. Uber has claimed that is “personal” use driving time. Insurance carriers call it “commercial” activity, meaning they’ll try not to cover any accident or damage that happens during this time.
  • If an Uber driver accepts cash or encourages riders to call them directly. Drivers going “off the app” as been a problem for Uber. During this time, there is ZERO coverage from the company.
  • If an Uber driver lies on their application.
  • If an Uber driver lets someone else use their account.
  • Using a different car than the one the driver signed up for Uber with.

Uber has argued that it doesn’t have to follow rules set for transportation companies. Uber says it’s just a technology company that connects riders and drivers, not a transportation provider. And now Florida joins 11 other states in agreeing with the company.

An accident with an Uber car can get complex. You’re not just going to be dealing with Uber, but the driver’s own insurance company. Let Farah & Farah help. You can reach us at (800) 533-3555.

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