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DrivingThe latest illustration of why Floridians need Tallahassee to regulate Uber, the smartphone-based transportation company? Brendan Walsh has had to sue over crash injuries that sent him to the hospital after an Uber-contracted vehicle collided with his motorcycle. His attorney says getting insurance information from Uber to defray Walsh's medical bills has become an issue.

"This particular business model is no different than a taxicab business model," attorney Scott Smith said, "other than they order an Uber vehicle with an app on their phone." Uber officials may disagree, but insurance is a basic business liability issue. Questions such as whose insurance pays, and when, should have been settled long before any driver for the San Francisco-based ride-booking service, founded in March 2009, first got behind the wheel in Florida last year.

Instead, insurance liability remains among the burning questions on roads around the state – and more than 50 countries and 200 cities worldwide – where Uber has been welcomed by patrons, yet banned, fined, or charged with various forms of operating an unlicensed, if not illegal, limo service.

That's the unsettled situation in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where Uber and similar ride-booking competitors essentially operate illegally in the face of official-policy paralysis. The same applies in cities from Paris to Mumbai, where Uber faces various forms of legal or legislative or action, although Uber says it provides $1 million liability policies for drivers who get into accidents involving the service.

In Palm Beach County, where a temporary operating agreement is in effect through Sept. 30, officials correctly are hoping for more help from the Legislature. As The Post reported Sunday, the issues continue being sorted out from Tallahassee to San Francisco, where a 6-year-old girl was killed on New Year's Eve, after being struck by an Uber-contracted car whose driver allegedly was looking at his cellphone.

How does such a company get to be worth $40 billion, however, without first settling such basic liability matters as insurance? Uber's business model is quite transparent: First get moving, all the way to the bank, and figure out the route to legitimacy later. Like a lot of other digital-age startups, Uber understands it is navigating in a Humvee through a Wild West world at Internet speed, with public officials better prepared to legislate the stagecoach.Ultimately it is state officials who will have to ensure the protections people take for granted.

Protect yourself while on the road. Call Prestige Insurance Group, Inc. at (305) 969-8776 for more information on Miami auto insurance.

(Article courtesy: Palm Beach Post)
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