The liability game

Uber and MetroMile offer drivers per-mile insurance between fares

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Uber has partnered with on-demand insurance provider MetroMile to start to unravel the tangled web of insurance liability it and its drivers face every time they hit the road to pick up fares. Uber and MetroMile have developed a kind of insurance plan attuned to Uber’s dispatch network that can track precisely when and where an UberX driver picks up and drops off a rider.

That’s necessary because Uber’s coverage only kicks in when an Uber driver is actively working a fare. When drivers are waiting around to be hailed, they are expected to have coverage from their own policies. Confusion over where Uber’s liability starts and stops, though, has been a source of headaches for the company and its drivers for years.

MetroMile won’t just provide a general insurance policy. It uses a plug-in module called a Metronome that works in any car made after 1996 to track a vehicle, calculating down to the mile how it’s driven. MetroMile then charges rates based on that total mileage. With the Uber integration, MetroMile’s meter will turn off as soon as a driver accepts a fare and turn back on as soon as the rider leaves the car.

We’re starting to see more apps and technologies target the unique business case of managing a fleet of vehicles you don’t actually own. For instance, Zendrive recently launched an app that monitors and rates the on-road behavior of drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft.

Uber drivers interested in signing up with MetroMile can find more info here. The company will start shipping Metronomes (which are typically free) in February, but so far the program is limited to three states: California, Illinois and Washington. MetroMile said it hopes to add more states this year as it gets approvals from regulators.