Measure requires ride sharers to buy more insurance

Measure requires ride sharers to buy more insurance
(Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/File)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

UberX -- Uber's ridesharing company -- started in Hawaii last June. The business boasts it has hundreds of independent contractors here, all covered by UberX's insurance policy.

"We have  $1 million commercial liability coverage for every trip. That's from the moment a driver accepts a request to the moment the trip is over," Uber Honolulu General Manager Brian Hughes said.

But Senate Bill 1280 calls for ridesharing drivers for Uber and Lyft to carry commercial insurance coverage that covers them at all times.

"If you're driving a passenger from Point A to Point B, or if you're driving around on the road looking for passengers, you're performing the same way a bus does or a taxi does. So we think that insurance protection should be the same in both cases," said Michael Onofrietti of the Hawaii Insurers Council.

Hughes said the measure makes it too expensive for people to do business.

"This current legislation, the way it's written, would completely break the business model," he said. "It would force UberX to shut down here in Hawaii."

Taxi companies like EcoCab believe UberX should face the same regulations they do.

"If your business model only works when there's no regulation, then it's not a business model that belongs in this community or this society." EcoCab's David Jung said.

The bill also requires drivers in transportation network companies like UberX and Lyft to register as businesses with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Hughes said Uber welcomes regulations but not what the Senate bill proposes.

"Onerous insurance requirements and other obstacles that have been put up inside the bill would actually end ridesharing here in the state," he said.

On Friday the bill cleared its second reading before the full House of Representatives. The measure now waits for a hearing with the House Consumer Protection and Judiciary committees.

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