Despite Commerce Department warning, Jacob Frey says Uber/Lyft ordinance still on its way

Frey: "The draft ordinance is still being rejiggered, but I think we're at a pretty good place where we can kinda fine-tune it."
A few weeks ago, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued a warning to folks considering using so-called "transportation network companies" like Lyft or Uber.

"The Commerce Department wants Minnesotans to know that there may be gaps in auto insurance coverage for both the drivers and passengers using TNCs," the department said in a statement. "There may not be coverage for an accident because most personal auto insurance policies contain exclusions when drivers use their personal cars for a commercial (business) purpose. For example, if you participate in a regular, non-business car pool, you would be covered. If you charge passengers a fee, you may not be covered if you get into an accident."

See also:
Jacob Frey on Lyft/Uber regulations: "I think the taxi industry needed some competition"

In sum, the worry is about the distinction between when a driver is covered by their personal insurance policy and when they're covered by a business policy.

"There are questions regarding the limitations of commercial insurance coverage provided by the TNC," the warning says. "[F]or example, when does commercial insurance cover drivers, and whether it includes medical payment coverage, comprehensive, collision, uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, or other types of coverage that are needed to ensure that TNC drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are fully covered."

But Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis City Council member who is taking the lead in drawing up an ordinance to regulate currently unregulated TNC companies (read the article linked above for the backstory), doesn't think the Commerce Department's warning is a big deal.

"We are making sure that the businesses' primary insurance will provide coverage at all times from the click of the app being turned on to the dropping off of the customer," Frey tells us. "We know that individuals' insurance will cover all claims when the app is not on and they're just driving to the store to get bread. What we're working on right now is the in-between time."

"What we're looking at is, it could be the individual's insurance which serves as the primary [during the in-between time] and in the event that doesn't provide coverage, then Uber or Lyft will kick in," he continues. "That's the thought, though it's not definite yet."

Frey says he and his colleagues are swimming in uncharted waters trying to craft an ordinance accounting for ambiguities of that sort.

(For more, click to page two.)

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