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Uber and Lyft users in Georgia: Beware

New Laws Limit Amount of Insurance Available for Accident Victims

            On July 1st, a new rideshare law went into effect in Georgia that has lowered passenger protection insurance by 90%. Before this law went into place, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft were obligated to provide “Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage of at least $1 million per incident.” GA Code § 33-1-24 (2020). However, since July 1st, Uber and Lyft only have to offer “$100,000.00 for bodily injuries to or death of one person.” 2023 Georgia Laws Act 70 (H.B. 529). This law effectively trades adequate protection for passengers using rideshare services in order to help reduce fees. A cap of $100,000.00 is usually not sufficient to cover all the various expenses for treatments victims of car accidents often undergo. This Georgia law makes riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle a far less protected activity for its passengers. The purpose of this law is to let Uber and Lyft lower the cost of using their services, however it comes at the expense of those who get into an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle. There were 5,860 Uber and Lyft accidents in Georgia in 2019 alone, and usage of these services is only increasing which will inevitably result in more accidents. Because of this new bill, users of these services will likely not be compensated sufficiently for an injury sustained while in a rideshare vehicle.

Lobbying Efforts by Uber and Lyft

            The passage of this law by the Georgia Legislature is a direct result of the lobbying efforts taken by Uber and Lyft. In 2020, Uber and Lyft set records in annual spending on Washington Lobbying. These rideshare companies have been campaigning to lower required insurance premiums all across the United States, and are known for their aggressive style of lobbying. This whole situation is important to know about for any users of these services, because at the end of the day what’s going on is Uber and Lyft are searching for ways to increase profits, and this new law which does just that comes at the cost of protection for passengers of these services. Spending the amount of money lobbying for lower insurance premiums Uber and Lyft do shows how often situations arise where these companies are forced to cover a passenger’s treatment after they’re involved in an accident while riding in a rideshare vehicle, and now passengers will be entitled to less money in such a situation.

How This Affects Other Georgia Drivers 

            This new law affects any driver on Georgia roads, not just passengers of rideshare vehicles. Drivers that get into an accident with a rideshare vehicle, like passengers of these vehicles, will now have to deal with the less than adequate insurance premium that results from this new law. Overall, the passage of this law will have the effect of increasing Uber and Lyft’s bottom line and decreasing rideshare prices, but the passengers of these rideshare companies and other drivers on the road will suffer increased risk of being left without adequate compensation if they are injured in a collision with a rideshare driver.

What can you do?

            The new law underscores the importance of maintaining adequate underinsured coverage.  This is coverage that kicks in when the available liability coverage does not adequately compensate you for the total damage done.  Broadly speaking, this coverage is relatively inexpensive and can be one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your family.  For more information regarding underinsured motorist coverage, see our next blog post.