HB2273: Car Service Apps Try To Separate Themselves From Taxis

March 20, 2014

(Photo by Alexandra Olgin-KJZZ)
The Uber smarphone application allows customers to connect with drivers in the area.

Hailing a cab on the street or getting a ride through an app. Both are ways to get from point A to point B. But, two car service apps are behind a bill to classify them separately.

Uber and Lyft say they are not taxi companies and should not be regulated like them. Taxis and limos have certification, licensing, insurance and testing requirements.

Uber calls itself a ride sharing network, but Mike Pinckard of Discount Cab disagrees.

“There is absolutely no difference in what their drivers do and many other for hire operators do every day. They transport people for money,” said Pinckard. 

Pinckard said those networks need the same insurance coverage to protect drivers and passengers. Uber’s Steve Thompson said the company has a different policy because drivers use their own cars.

“Their personal vehicle that they are driving is registered to them is primarily used for personal use. The moment they start engaging in commercial activity, that’s when a million dollar policy kicks in,” said Thompson. 

Thompson said Uber added that nationwide policy last Friday. It covers their drivers while on a trip but not while searching for a ride on the app. But, opponents question who is liable if a driver gets into an accident while in that insurance gray area. AAA Arizona spokesperson Linda Gorman said Uber drivers are using personal insurance for something it was not intended for.

“Personal coverage is for that. It’s for personal use. It’s for you driving around in your personal vehicle to conduct your personal business," said Gorman. "It’s not to conduct any commercial activities."

A bill at the state legislature to officially make companies like Uber separate from taxis is headed to the Senate for debate.