That said, these companies are also quick to point out that their drivers adhere to strict standards of professionalism while on the job and both drivers and passengers are able to rate and review each other for future reference.
However, a representative from a taxi company would be more likely to tell you that ride-sharing is a taxi service that uses a new format in order to cut corners and avoid regulations that keep taxi drivers and passengers safe and able to deliver a minimum standard of quality. A five-star rating system might not be able to give you a complete picture of what you’re in for, especially for first-time drivers and passengers, and while Uber and Lyft may require a certain standard of quality out of drivers and their vehicles, they can’t give their contract-based employees the same level of supervision as a taxi service manager.
The Insurance Question
One particular sticking point between ride-sharing businesses and taxi companies is how much insurance is appropriate for each service. Taxis are typically heavily insured from the moment the driver starts the ignition to the moment he or she parks in the company lot, and the premiums for this coverage are a major expense for taxi companies.
However, this coverage requirement doesn’t necessarily apply to ride sharing, and so taxi services have a vested interest in making sure that lawmakers extend this insurance requirement to companies like Uber and Lyft. Not only does it protect passengers, drivers, and any unfortunate pedestrians who may get into an accident, it also gives taxi companies a fighting chance.
By the same token, ride-sharing services know that they’ll have a competitive advantage if they can keep the premiums they have to pay as low as possible. At first, this meant negotiating the regulation standards city-by-city, but states are playing a growing role in setting blanket regulations.
Florida V. Model Bill
The standard ride-sharing insurance bill which has made its way through 20 state legislatures already requires a greater amount of insurance than the typical taxi service, but it only applies while the service app is active and a passenger is in the car. However, one Florida senator has offered a counterproposal: a smaller minimum insurance rate which applies all the time instead.
This requirement resembles the sort of insurance regulation which applies to taxis, and so the response has been exactly what you’d expect: a welcome change for taxi companies, but a reason to stay out of Florida for Uber. According to them this change is ridiculous in light of their drivers’ flexible working hours, and since Uber drivers are simply individuals in their own cars until they have a passenger it makes sense to only require the usual Florida insurance while the driver is searching for and driving to a fare.
Whichever way the ride-sharing bill winds up, there are still likely to be certain gaps thanks to how Uber and Lyft drivers are considered contractors instead of employees with all the rights and workers’ compensation that implies. As such, Florida cities that accept ride-sharing services may see an upswing in related personal injury lawsuits that aren’t covered by any insurance policy.