Ride-Sharing companies and Insurance

What should be the role of ride-sharing companies when involved in an accident?

Uber is a ride-sharing company which has upended the taxi industry across different countries. The business model has allowed a larger supply of idle cars to operate as taxis being armed with a smartphone to interface between the drivers and the passengers. One of the reasons for quick adoption of this service was the ease of use as well as the notion of rating the service which allowed both the drivers and passengers to be courteous and have a pleasant riding experience.

The service does not extend and is ambiguous when dealing with circumstances where both the drivers and passengers are involved in an unfortunate accident. There have been several incidents over the last year some of which have resulted in lawsuits against the company. Every country provides options to avail car and medical insurance in the event of an emergency and the general directive from the ride sharing companies has been to involve the local jurisdiction and settle the expenses with the insurance company and the parties involved with little to no support from their end. The ride-sharing companies are here to stay and it is imperative of them to outline and help governments formulate policies which work in favor of expanding their business models in a fair manner.

The primary question which remains unanswered is —

What should be the scope of the ride-sharing companies in taking the responsibility to provide insurance when the drivers and passengers are involved in an accident?

The update on providing insurance on Uber site is still ambiguous in its language and the confusion resulting from it is demonstrated in the handling of the case embedded towards the end of this post.

A few pointers which make it hard to reach a viable conclusion on the topic include —

  1. If a driver is in the process of searching for a passenger (usually they try source a ride simultaneously from multiple ride sharing apps and pick one) to provide ride-sharing, who should be responsible in case the car is involved in an accident?
  2. In the event of an accident and the blame resting on the driver, does the insurance provider of the driver cover both property and medical coverage of all parties involved? Would the ride sharing companies help the passengers and the parties involved in covering any legal costs or provide factual information (related to tracking the ride) to aid the lawsuits?
  3. Do the ride-sharing companies have an obligation to demand a certain level of insurance to be availed by the drivers before they sign up on the service and do they educate on the risks being taken by the driver in such situations?

A recent case in India to put Uber in a spot of bother on their handling of such cases is included below.

Looking for a healthy discussion on this topic and to learn from any passengers in situations where the ride-sharing companies have helped to resolve the situation amicably.