Who Pays When A Ride Share Driver Hits You?

Biking the streets of Oakland can be risky.

Joe Mariscal has braved them for 30 years.

“People are not paying attention,” he said. “They’re going too fast... they’re being daring and getting too close.”

Mariscal had never had an accident until this past June. Joe says he was stopped at a red light, when the car in front of him started backing up.

“I saw her coming at the last instant, and dove right to the right as she plowed into my bicycle and pinned it under the back end of her car,” he said.

Joe says the driver was eager to leave, explaining to him that she was a Lyft driver and she had a customer waiting.

“She said, ‘I gotta go, I have another fare.’”

Joe was OK. But his bike wasn’t. So, before the driver left, he snapped pictures of her driver’s license, her insurance card, and her license plates. Back at home, he filed a police report.

Joe then called the driver’s insurance company to file a claim for his banged up bike frame. He was shocked when the insurance company told him the policy had expired.

“I was angry,” he said.

Joe then turned to Lyft, wondering if its insurance would cover the cost of repairing his bent bike frame. He called and emailed Lyft. But he says for the next two weeks, the only response he got from the rideshare company was automated emails.  

“It wasn’t good enough for me because they weren’t answering my questions. My questions involved getting my bicycle fixed or replaced,“ he said.

So, Joe reached out to us to NBC Bay Area Responds to see if we could help.

We checked out Lyft’s insurance guidelines, and found there are differing levels of protections, depending on what a driver is doing.

If a driver hasn’t logged onto Lyft’s system, Lyft offers no insurance. You must rely on the driver’s personal insurance if you’re in an accident with them.

If a driver is logged onto Lyft, but hasn’t accepted a ride, Lyft’s insurance is secondary to the driver’s personal insurance.

Once a driver accepts a ride, Lyft’s insurance assumes primary coverage.

This was the case with Joe. So we reached out to Lyft about his accident. He got a call from a claims adjuster right away. And days later, he got a check for $1,600, the cost to fix his bike.

Lyft says it was in the process of handling Joe’s claim before NBC Bay Area Responds.

As for Joe, once his bike was fixed, he was back on it.

“I’m not injured. I’m healthy. I can still ride my bicycle,” he said.

Lyft says drivers must be personally insured to drive with the company. It said according to its records, the driver who hit Joe was personally insured. However, the insurance information she gave Joe showed she wasn’t.

We checked Uber’s insurance policies, and found they are similar to Lyft’s -- coverage for accidents varies based on whether the driver is on a trip or not.

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