Uber drivers in Ontario now insured automatically

A new insurance policy covers all Ontario Uber drivers, passengers and vehicle owners when Uber is in use, and when the app is off the vehicle owner’s personal auto insurance policy applies. (CBC)

Uber drivers in two Canadian provinces are now insured, as Ontario joins Alberta in approving coverage that extends from when the app is turned on to when passengers exit the vehicle.

Ontario’s insurance regulator announced Thursday that it has approved a policy from Intact Financial Corp. for private vehicles transporting paying passengers through the ride-hailing service.

Last week, Intact began offering coverage for Uber drivers in Alberta and both companies are working with Quebec to get similar insurance in place.

“This new ridesharing insurance approved by (the Financial Services Commission of Ontario) should serve as a practical solution designed for ridesharing,” Uber Canada’s general manager, Ian Black, said in a statement.

“Both (Intact) and Uber remain engaged with regulators across Canada to bring new ridesharing insurance policies that offer a smart, seamless and simple solution for driver-partners.”

Insurance gap

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario said the “blanket fleet coverage” addresses a “critical insurance gap” for the industry.

CEO Brian Mills said in a bulletin posted to the regulator’s website that he anticipates new insurance policies that build on what has been approved for Intact will be filed in the future.

“Going forward, I want to emphasize that the sharing economy in general, and the automobile insurance implications in particular, will continue to evolve and will require innovative solutions and responses by all stakeholders, including FSCO, that respond to technological advances,” Mills wrote.

“At the same time, I want to emphasize that approved solutions may also need to evolve and adapt as circumstances and legal requirements change. Therefore, any policy form or endorsement that I approve is also subject to ongoing review.”

The new policy covers all Uber drivers, passengers and vehicle owners when Uber is in use, and when the app is off the vehicle owner’s personal auto insurance policy applies.

Regulatory change

The Ontario government approved a regulatory change under the Insurance Act to allow insurance companies to develop commercial fleet insurance policies for ride-hailing companies.

It says the regulatory change is an interim measure while the province works with FSCO and the insurance industry “to modernize the auto insurance system to develop a permanent solution for emerging transportation services.”

The Liberal government doesn’t appear keen to pass a private member’s bill from Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak to regulate Uber, AirBnB and other services in the so-called sharing economy. The bill passed second reading in last fall but has yet to go before committee to be studied.

But the government has set up a sharing economy advisory committee to look at policy, regulatory and legislative challenges associated with the emerging industry.

The Intact policy provides coverage that includes statutory accident benefits, uninsured motorist coverage and third-party liability of up to $1 million while the app is in use but no ride has been accepted and $2 million after a ride has been accepted.

For collision and comprehensive coverage to apply, the vehicle owner must be covered in that way under their personal policy.