A new Farmers Insurance product that fills a gap in coverage for Uber and Lyft drivers was approved on Wednesday by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Starting May 28, Farmers, based in Woodland Hills, will offer coverage for what the ridesharing companies call “period one” – the times during which a driver has turned on their ride-hailing app and is awaiting a fare. It’s the first such policy offered by a major insurer.
Under current rules, ride sharing companies are required to insure their drivers in period two, when they are on the way to pick up a passenger, and period three, when they are transporting a passenger.
Ridesharing companies are not required to cover drivers during that time, and insurance companies can deny coverage for incidents that occur during period one, arguing that drivers are using their vehicle as a livery vehicle, temporarily nullifying normal coverage, said Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance.
The insurance situation for rideshare drivers came to the forefront after 6-year-old Sofia Liu was struck and killed in San Francisco in late 2013 by an Uber driver who at the time was logged into Uber’s app but not en route to pick up a passenger.
To get Farmers’ new period-one coverage, rideshare drivers will have to get their main auto policy from Farmers. The company will add an 8 percent surcharge to the customer’s premium for the extra coverage.
With thousands of rideshare drivers in the state, the new offering could bring in lots of new customers for Farmers, though competitors are likely to follow suit if the offering proves successful.
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