What Happens When Two Lyft Drivers Collide?
True story: when my pal “Creighton” decided to start using his Charger Hellcat for Uber, he called his insurance company and had them upgrade his policy to commercial status. Doing so pretty much wiped out any profit that he was going to make as an Uber driver, but he still made the call because he’s the kind of person who doesn’t like to take unnecessary risks.
Getting rideshare-specific insurance isn’t always prohibitive, but during my conversations with various Uber and Lyft drivers I’ve yet to hear of anybody besides Creighton actually ponying-up for real additional coverage. Most of these people are living pretty close to the bone and they don’t really think they have that much to lose in the first place. Plus, there’s the fact that both Uber and Lyft offer some additional coverage as part of their driver agreement.
That’s the theory of it, anyway. What happens when two Lyft drivers collide? Yesterday, someone found out.
This post appeared on Tuesday afternoon on the Reddit “personal finance” group:
last Saturday night, my partner had passengers in her car when she got in a minor collision with another (ironically) Lyft driver who was between rides. My partners car had substantial damage, and was undrivable. Since the accident happened at an intersection where a local rapid commute light rail track ran through, local transit authorities called a tow company on their own accord, which promptly came and stole her vehicle to be taken to a tow yard while we were on the phone with our insurance making arrangements for our own tow truck that insurance would cover. The officer on scene deemed no driver was at fault, and did not make a report. Now 3 days have passed, and the car is still in the tow yard, racking up storage fees. Our insurance doesn’t want to touch the case since it was a Lyft incident, and won’t even cover a rental car while we get everything sorted out. Today, finally, someone got in touch with us from Lyft saying they will not cover any towing or storage fees ($300), and they have a $2,500 deductable. We are both college students, and while financially responsible, cannot afford that kind of money for repairs. Does anyone have any advice to offer for what to do next? We feel as though we have exhausted all options, filing claims with both sides, but getting shut down either way we go. Any advice is appreciated.
EDIT – Thank you all for your contributions to the post. Even just having someone else pitch their opinion on the case is reassuring for us. Ultimately it all boils down to us taking a financial hit, but this is a huge lesson to everyone who drives for a ride share company to check insurance coverage. I will be spreading awareness of this on social media so others don’t get caught in the trap.
You can read the original post, and hundreds of responses, here. I took a brief look at the original poster’s personal history to see whether he meant “business partner” when he said “partner.” From what I can tell he really means either “girlfriend” or “wife,” but he wrote partner for the same reason that some Americans have lately fallen in love with writing and saying “shite.”
He’s also a pretty talented snowboarder who seems to go snowboarding a lot at some non-cheap places but can’t come up with the $2,500 deductible. I can sympathize. There were a lot of times in my life where I was riding around on a $900 BMX bike with ten bucks in my pocket.
The general consensus is that the “partner” is about to get dropped by Liberty Mutual in a manner that will make it extremely expensive for her to get insurance next time. Another bit of general consensus: she’s lucky the passengers weren’t injured. Many courts don’t have much concept of a limit when it comes to the amount they will award to injured passengers in your car crash; add in the slight whiff of commercial enterprise and things are likely to get much, much worse.
I cannot help but mention that this incident neatly encapsulates many of my personal difficulties with the “gig economy” in general and Uber/AirBNB/Turo-style services in particular: the corporations get their money regardless and virtually all of the risk is passed along to someone whose personal history and choices usually serve as stark demonstration of their inability to adequately judge risk and reward.
Furthermore, if you’re a college student, you shouldn’t be horking around Salt Lake or wherever driving for Lyft. You should either be working a real job or studying so you can get out of school faster. What’s happening here is that student loan and/or parental contribution money is being used behind the scenes to subsidize the vehicle that is being used for Lyft. When the car wears out or needs major repairs, these students will have the same hands-up-don’t-shoot attitude that they are displaying about this crash. If you’re not able to come up with $2,500 to fix a car from a crash or a mechanical issue caused by turning it into a low-rent taxi, you shouldn’t be driving for Lyft… and if you do have the money, what are you wasting your time for?
From my perspective, there are only two acceptable reasons to be a rideshare driver. The first is to frighten people with your Hellcat. The second is to insert yourself into fascinating situations. But what do I know? I’ve wasted enough money on cars to fix these kids’ problem two hundred times over.
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