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Drivers need to be uber careful before charging for lifts

24 August 2015

Gocompare.com warns drivers to check their insurance before offering a lift-share or becoming an Uber driver

  • 10% of comprehensive car insurance policies exclude lift-sharing;
  • Private car insurance prohibits carrying passengers for hire or reward - Uber drivers require commercial private hire vehicle insurance.

Gocompare.com is warning drivers to check with their car insurer before joining up to a lift-share scheme or risk invalidating their cover. The comparison website is also advising drivers signed up to the ‘taxi-like’ smartphone app Uber that they are not covered under standard car insurance – they need taxi insurance.

 The warning comes following a review of 227 comprehensive car insurance policies*, which revealed that:

  • One in ten policies specifically exclude cover for lift-sharing;
  • Where cover for lift-sharing is permitted, it is restricted to social journeys and drivers are not allowed to make a profit;
  • All private car insurance policies prohibit ‘passengers carried in the course of a business carrying passengers’ or for ‘hire or reward’ - so, Uber drivers need taxi insurance.

Lift-sharing – contribution not profit

Drivers offering lift-shares are only permitted to ask passengers for a contribution towards fuel and other running costs. The amount charged must not include an element of profit, otherwise insurers consider that you are operating as a passenger service for hire and profit which would invalidate your insurance.  Lift-sharing is also not permitted in a vehicle seating more than eight passengers.  

Drivers also need to make sure that they are insured for the journeys they make.  Most policies cover social, domestic and pleasure use, which includes commuting to your main place of work.  However, if you drive to branch offices or business meetings, then you’ll need to extend your cover to include business use.  Typically this will also cover car sharing with colleagues.

Uber taxi service app

Uber is a smartphone taxi company which connects passengers directly with drivers through a mobile phone app, rather than using a centralised booking service like a traditional private hire cab service.  Customers using the service book and pay for lifts through the app.  While Uber does not consider itself as operating a taxi service, insurers do and require Uber drivers have appropriate taxi insurance.

Gocompare.com’s motor insurance spokesman, Matt Oliver, commented: “The high costs of fuel and running a car has made lift-sharing an attractive proposition for many drivers as they look for ways to cut their commuting costs. But, before signing-up any passengers, we urge motorists to check their car insurance to make sure that it permits lift-sharing. Drivers also need to ensure that the amount they charge passengers only covers the cost of the journey. If they make a profit from giving lifts to passengers, they could be classed as using their vehicle for ‘hire or reward’ which would invalidate their cover.

“If you are thinking of using your car to make money through Uber or other ride-sharing apps, you will not be covered by car insurance.  You will need commercial private hire vehicle insurance offering cover for hire or reward.”     

For more information on lift-sharing and using your car for business visit: http://www.gocompare.com/car-insurance/insuring-your-car-for-work-use/

For more information on ‘Insurance for Uber drivers and passengers’ visit: http://www.gocompare.com/taxi-insurance/uber-and-other-ride-sharing-apps/


Notes to editors:

Source: *Defaqto Matrix of 227 private car insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (2 July 2015). Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number