Uber Capitalism

Uber is a classic disruptive technology. The ride-sharing app has revolutionized the moribund taxi cab business model by providing better service for a lower price. The Uber model is so new that existing taxi regulations by local governments are, in many cases, inoperative.

This upsets bureaucrats greatly. Who does Uber think they are to improve the lives of consumers and providers without getting government approval first? Exhausted at the wait for the city of Portland to rewrite its rulebook to allow the popular service, Uber launched today without the city’s blessing:

“I don’t think we’re going against the city’s wishes,” [Uber’s Brooke Stever] said. “We hope the city embraces this and listens to their constituents, the people of Portland and drivers partnering with us.”

Drivers often supplement their income by moonlighting with Uber, using their own vehicles. But Portland and other cities have regulations that classify Uber in the Town Car category, meaning riders must wait at least an hour after scheduling a ride before the driver shows up and paying a premium price over what cabs can offer.

In a (nominally) free country, why must citizens ask permission from the government before serving their fellow citizens? Uber has decided to ask forgiveness later instead of seeking permission first:

“We feel it’s our duty,” she said. “It’s the holidays, a popular season to go out, there are a lot of DUIs. We really feel like now is the right time, we want to meet the public’s demands and meet safety needs of the city and offer one of the safest and reliable rides around.”

“I love this model, your neighbors driving you around,” said Uber driver Eric Hansen. “That’s what this is, anybody with a few hours a day to make some extra money.”

Good for them. Now it’s up to the Portland bureaucrats to see if they want to kick Eric Hansen out of his holiday job and force their voters into overpriced cabs. (Jon Gabriel)

Now whether its safe or not, that’s a totally different question.

From Uber: If you’re taking a ride requested through UberBLACK, UberSUV, or uberTAXI, your livery or taxi transportation provider carries a commercial insurance policy in at least the minimum amount required by local regulations. If you didn’t get his or her insurance information at the time of the accident, please reach out to us so we can connect you.

If you’re taking a ride requested through uberX, some transportation providers are rideshare drivers providing transportation with their personal vehicles. Rideshare providers carry personal insurance policies. However, there’s a commercial insurance policy for ridesharing with $1 million of coverage per incident. This policy covers drivers’ liability from the time a driver accepts your trip request through the app until the completion of your trip. This policy is expressly primary to the driver’s personal auto policy. An additional insurance policy covers drivers when they are logged into the Uber app but have not yet accepted a trip request.

There is also uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UIM) of $1 million per incident for bodily injury, in case another motorist causes an accident and doesn’t carry adequate insurance. So, for example, injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident would be covered by the UI/UIM.

But some personal insurance companies will not cover such activities so you need to beware.

Caveat emptor.



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